The hell of the postseason is over, and now it’s time for the nightmare of the offseason to get into full gear. But before we submerge ourselves into that completely, let’s take a moment to look back and get a little nostalgic about the season that was. And yes, that means it’s time to indulge in award season.
Tag Archives: Max Scherzer
Three months ago, to think that the answer to this question could be anyone but Max Scherzer was silly. But of late, things have changed. The Nationals have three starting pitchers with the potential to win the Cy Young award. Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg have all been pitching Cy Young-caliber ball, especially of late. They’re starting to be referred to as the “Three-Headed Monster.” If I had my way, I’d break the award into three pieces and give it to all of them to share.
But alas, the world doesn’t work that way. Only one can win the Cy Young, and here I discuss who of the three Nats starters has the best chance to beat out Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and each other for the award.
This has been a great week to be a Nats fan living in Chicago, let me tell you. All corners of the Windy City are ablaze with #HotTakes as talking heads and fans alike panic about the Nationals’ B-team going to Wrigley and taking care of the Cubs in two of three games. For good reason, too: Erick Fedde shut down everyone besides Willson Contreras and “closer of the future” Carl Edwards Jr gave up a grand slam to light-hitting Matt Wieters, neither of which inspires confidence about a ball club. While ESPN Radio Chicago spent the week with entire afternoons dedicated to lamenting the Grand Canyon-like gap between the Nats and Cubs, rational thinkers considered the true impact of a series two months before an NLDS game with at least a half-dozen major contributors not playing a single inning. Some immediately said that nothing about it mattered at all, but I got to wondering: Did Washington actually luck out by not allowing their likely playoff foe to see the top of the rotation?
With about two more months to go until the regular season ends, and with the postseason picture becoming more clear, it’s become obvious that unless something changes drastically, the Nats are going to play the winner of the NL Central in the playoffs. And right now, it’s looking like that team is going to be the Cubs (unless the Brewers can fulfill my chaos-fueled wishes and unseat the Cubs).
For the last few years, the Nationals have been known for their starting pitching. At the the beginning of the season, they looked to have one of the strongest rotations in the league. Max Scherzer had just won the Cy Young, Stephen Strasburg looked to finally be the full-year, dominant starter we’d expected him to be, Tanner Roark was coming off a career year, Gio Gonzalez got off to an incredibly hot start, and Joe Ross was looking to become a full-time rotation piece. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
If you follow the Washington Nationals closely, you know that the Lerners, owners of the franchise, and General Manager Mike Rizzo have put together a “stars and scrubs” team for the past few years. They designed it to have the majority of the payroll tied up in elite (and marketable) players with minimal money put into depth. It is hard to say it is not working, considering that after nearly 100 games the Nationals have somewhere between three and five MVP candidates and a double-digit lead in the division. With a plethora of injuries testing the limits of that thin depth, stakeholders all over are wondering if they will be able to hold up to losses to key players. With that said, here is a look at the replaceability of key players within the Nationals organization.
Like myself, the average Washington fan likely watches 98% of Nationals games either on MASN with the beautiful and eloquent F.P. Santangelo and Bob Carpenter calling the game or at Nationals Park itself (that two percent discrepancy being those cursed Sunday nights on ESPN during which Aaron Boone and company talk about is the Strasburg Shutdown for three hours). While that is normal for any particular fan base, you can often end up somewhat stuck on certain narratives and ideas about your team. I had to opportunity to become quite attuned to this when I was able to go to Cincinnati to watch the first three games of the recent Nats-Reds series.
The Nationals kick off the second half of the 2017 season tonight on the road against the Reds sitting 9.5 games up in the NL East. While the squad has sat in first place for practically the entire season, it hasn’t been an easy road getting there. Some players have outplayed their expectations while others have been disappointing so far this season.
With 5 All-Stars so far (#VoteRendon), this year’s version of the Nats is Dolly-Parton-like top heavy. The top 6 Nats all have 2 WAR or higher. There are 2 Nats in the top 10 in baseball in both hitting (Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper) and pitching (Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg). Injuries and the craptastic bullpen have sucked a lot of joy out of this season. Yet the calamities that have befallen the team have allowed a few of scrubs to show their worth.