Associate Sports Editor
The Washington Nationals are World Series Champions.
Starting the season without the former face of their franchise, Bryce Harper, who hightailed it to National League East rival Philadelphia Phillies, no one knew what to expect from this team.
With star third-baseman Anthony Rendon and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg in a contract season and Harper already out the door, it looked to be an uncertain season and future for the Washington Nationals and their fanbase. While the future may still be uncertain, the present is something that Nationals fans will never forget.
In a World Series where the home team lost every single game and unlikely heroes rose, the Nationals accomplished what was deemed the impossible earlier in the season, when they sat at 19-31 on May 23rd.
After winning the do-or-die Wild Card game against the Brewers, an elimination game five win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League division series and sweeping the floor with my St. Louis Cardinals in the National League championship series, the Nationals were battle tested and knew how to win in elimination games. This became key to their World Series victory.
Compare that to the Houston Astros, who aside from the series with the New York Yankees, had an easy path to their second World Series in the past three seasons.
The Astros have one of the best cores in all of baseball, along with one of the strongest rotations in the league. They also have the experience of winning the World Series, something they did in 2017.
That wasn’t enough to stop the red-hot Nationals. They started the Fall Classic off strong, taking games one and two in Houston. The Astros came storming back, winning all three games in Washington.
Many thought this was the end for the Nationals, but they had been in this situation before in every series they played in the postseason except for the NLCS. They knew how to react to elimination games, and they shocked the world and took both games in Houston, crowning themselves the World Series Champions.
They accomplished the impossible. Budding superstar Juan Soto and NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon led the offensive charge, combining for five homers in the series.
The strong pitching staff of the Nationals showed as well. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg posted a 2.51 ERA over 14.1 innings pitched. Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin both had a 3.60 ERA over ten innings pitched.
With free agency looming, and Strasburg and Rendon both testing the waters, there is still a sense of uncertainty for the future of the Washington Nationals. Rendon is set to be one of the most sought after free-agents on the market this off-season along with Garrit Cole of the Astros.
There are plenty of teams looking at obtaining Rendon. The Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and Anaheim Angels are all potential suitors for the MVP candidate third baseman.
On the Strasburg side, some of the same teams are potential suitors. The Phillies desperately needs arms, and other contenders like the Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers could use his services. A surprise team in the Strasburg race could be the San Diego Padres, who could obtain a one-two punch of young arm Chris Paddack and Strasburg.
If the Nationals do lose both Rendon and Strasburg, all hope isn’t lost. They still have one of the best young talents in the game in Soto. They still have a strong rotation without Strasburg, so the re-build isn’t necessarily on if both Rendon and Strasburg walk.
But don’t think too far ahead, Nationals fans. Enjoy this incredibly special moment now and appreciate what this team just accomplished.