The Rundown: Nats Reign After 4 Road Wins, Offseason Officially Begins, Cubs Have Decisions to Make
Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on their historic World Series victory over the Houston Astros. Considering Washington only won 19 of their first 50 games this season and then proceeded to win five road elimination games, each of which they trailed in, we witnessed a true Cinderella story play out before our eyes since Memorial Day.
No team in @MLB history had ever trailed in 4 elimination games in a single #Postseason and come back to win them all.
The 2019 #WorldSeries champion Washington Nationals did it 5 times. pic.twitter.com/sdZojp7omf
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 31, 2019
Last night’s 6-2 win over the Astros allowed the Nationals to fly that curly W for the final time this season. For anyone who said back in September that the Cubs were better off not making the playoffs than backing in as a Wild Card, the Nationals are proof that all you need to do is get in to have a chance to win. Then again, the Cubs had one of the worst road records in baseball and have just two starters who could make the top five of Washington’s rotation, so the outcome may have been different.
Consider where the Nats would be right now without four fringe players that were huge keys to their success this season: Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera, Aníbal Sánchez, and Daniel Hudson. Those four players could have easily been Daniel Descalso, Addison Russell, Tyler Chatwood, and Brad Brach. Trade one group for the other and this baseball season is a completely different animal. Yes, the star power of Washington’s starting rotation is the biggest reason they’re baseball’s champs right now, but it is the guys who are expected to contribute minimally, and then play way over their heads, that is the difference between hoisting that trophy and sitting at home in October.
Houston manager AJ Hinch is being vilified for removing Zack Greinke after just 80 pitches, but it should be pointed out that the stud starter has been protected from going through a lineup for a third time since Houston acquired him. He was pitching out of his mind last night, but after giving up a home run to Anthony Rendon and then walking Juan Soto to start the 7th inning, Hinch had seen enough. The bigger problem for the Houston skipper is that he wasted Gerrit Cole by getting him warmed up and then sitting him.
The Astros won 60 home games this season, most in all of baseball, but they couldn’t win one home game in a series where they were decided favorites. Baseball is a funny game and the best team doesn’t always win. Considering what the Nationals have done since Memorial Day, however, their victory in this certainly wasn’t improbable.
That said, there is no talk of a Washington dynasty, and there shouldn’t be. They may have some tough decisions to make as Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick are now free agents, and Stephen Strasburg could opt out and join them in baseball’s annual winter cattle call. For now, they’ll just savor this one as well they should. What a series.
I’ll reserve talk about the horrendous umpiring in this series for a later post. The Nationals have earned the right to be called champions, so let’s let today be all about manager Davey Martinez and his team from D.C.
Cubs News & Notes
- On the eve of free agency, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts made like the Grinch during 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh Show yesterday. Ricketts hinted at limited spending this winter, which is akin to waiting until Christmas Eve to tell your children that Santa Claus doesn’t really exist.
- Ignoring everything about the bullet point above, might the Cubs consider trading Kris Bryant and then signing Rendon? Both third baseman are irreplaceable players. If either team goes into spring training without one of those players rostered, their front office better be committed to a full rebuild.
- It’s entirely possible that once Cubs players report to Arizona in February, the team’s biggest move of this offseason will have been the hiring of David Ross.
- I’m not trying to incite a riot or anything, but if the Cubs stand pat this winter I hope January’s Cubs Convention isn’t the lovefest it’s been in each of the last five years. I wasn’t going to attend this year but my curiosity has been piqued and I want to see how the fans react to last season and the team’s activity this winter. I’ll be there all weekend.
Cole seemed to make it pretty clear he won’t be re-signing with the Astros this winter. After last night’s loss, the Cy Young candidate candidly stated that he is no longer “an employee of the team,” and that he would be representing himself as he spoke to the media.
MLB Network insider Joel Sherman named the Rangers as a top contender for Cole in an article for the New York Post the other morning.
Multiple sources have told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News that the Rangers have also had internal discussions about the possibility of a deal for one of the Red Sox’ high-priced starting pitchers, a list that includes Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi.
Raise your hand if you remember when the Cubs dugout had this much fun celebrating a home run.
They drove pic.twitter.com/P43fGCslhd
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) October 31, 2019
Sorry for the shortened post, I have a lot on my plate today. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow.
They Said it
- “It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about how much you win. The correlation between spending and winning isn’t nearly as strong as we’d like it to be in a sense. Obviously, the top couple teams in the league [in payroll] didn’t make the playoffs. We spent more than every team that made the playoffs — probably a couple of them combined. Even if you really thought spending was the answer, the free-agent market is always fraught.” – Tom Ricketts
Thursday Walk Up Song
To Rise You Gotta Fall by Nicki Bluhm. Congratulations to the Nationals once again, and I promise you are going to love this song.