Okay, the mountaintop has been reached! Kind of! Actually, this isn’t the mountaintop... Wait a minute, have we even reached the trailhead yet? Oh, for crying out loud, this is the parking lot.
Here’s the news from Washington.
Nats beat Phillies, wait a while, then celebrate
Stephen Strasburg led the way, both in the game, then out of the dugout tunnel on Sunday afternoon to greet the fans after the Nats clinched their N.L. East title in a more subdued celebration than in previous years.
Once a joke, the Nationals are now one of baseball's most dominant franchises
In early 2012, if you told your average Joe that the Washington Nationals were about to go on a historic run, winning four division titles in six years, and would hold the second-best record in all of baseball in that time, they would've laughed your ears off. The Nats? As it turns out, A+ scouting, A++ players, and A+++ managing were quite the recipe for success.
Here's what the Nationals should focus on with a playoff spot locked up:
Number one: Getting some "Bryce" guy healthy. Number two: Keep everyone else healthy. Past that, it's a combination of holding things where they are and getting a few guys to where they need to be.
The Nats next object: (Maybe) catching L.A.
With L.A. on a historic skid and the Nationals on a pretty good run, it's quite possible that the Nats -- only four games back of Los Angeles now -- could overtake them in the standings (if they want to, at least).
If Stephen Strasburg can continue to pitch the way he's pitching, the Nats could be dominant in October
Stephen Strasburg is on one of the most dominant stretches in his career. In the meantime, I'd like you to think about the fact that the main reason the Nats lost in the NLDS last year was because of an overstretched bullpen, which was due to the fact that no starting pitcher went longer than six innings. Could a dominant Strasburg change all of that?
What will the Nationals' playoff bench look like sans-Brian Goodwin?
Who will back up Michael A. in center come October? Stevenson? Bautista? Dare I say, Robles?
Lind, Albers snap longest active postseason droughts with clinch on Sunday
Adam Lind and Matt Albers are finally key parts of postseason clubs, and will both most likely (finally) make their playoff debuts this October.
Shawn Kelley on his struggles: "It's puzzling, it really is"
From all the data he sees, from all he feels his body saying, from what he sees his pitches doing, Shawn Kelley thinks he should be dominating. But for some reason, it just won't come together for him. (Maybe he's tipping his pitches?)
Jayson Werth talks team chemistry, curses, "math, books, and bulls-- like that" in clinch interview
Jayson Werth is always, always, always a great interview, and typically a fountain of wisdom for those who seek. Dan Kolko talked to him in the clubhouse, and Werth didn't disappoint.
Werth: This Nationals team has "all the weapons we need in October."
Jayson Werth, running down the list, shared a thought with the press on Sunday afternoon: Out of all the Nats teams to make the playoffs, this one may have the most (and best) weapons.
The good, the bad, and the interesting from the Nationals' minor league season
The goods (Robles, Johnson, Suero) are pretty obvious. More interesting, are the, well, interestings.
Okay, start paying attention to baseball again everyone, the Nats may be overtaking the Dodgers
The Nationals have kept to their spectacular pace, and the Dodgers have literally fallen off a cliff. Now, there's a pseudo-pennant race happening, so look up, everyone!
Victor Robles, professional at getting hit by pitches, hit by a pitch
Victor Robles is hit by pitches at kind of an absurd rate, which is a little unsettling. That trend continued today at the Major League level.