It used to be that Nats fans could look forward to even years, knowing the team would at least make the playoffs in those years — but perhaps the rules have changed this year, and now odd years are the new years in which fans can expect NLDS exits.
Either way, here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
The Nationals are betting Anibal Sanchez can continue his resurgence (WaPo)
"Sánchez only really works as an effective replacement for Tanner Roark if he is more like the pitcher he was last season than the one who stumbled through the three years before it. The Sanchez from last season thrived with an altered approach that featured his cutter like never before. It seems like a trend worth continuing, and it seems like Suzuki can help."
Top stories of 2018: Martinez's first year in charge (MASN)
No matter if you liked Davey Martinez's 'over the hump' attitude or not, he was crucial to the 2018 season, one marred by injury and underperforming players — but also one in which Martinez could have made some better decisions and pushed some guys harder.
Sánchez grateful for contract, confident success will continue (MASN)
Sánchez made things official with the Nats yesterday, and is on the right side of a resurgence — but he wasn't entirely sure that it was going to translate into a payday.
Impressive first year hitter debuts of 2018 (MLB.com)
Juan Soto, as it turns out, made the list — an "unprecedented" slugger who beat out J.D. Martinez and Aaron Judge as the top opposite-field slugger in baseball.
Chelsea Janes sits down with NPR to discuss switch from baseball to politics (NPR)
In case you missed it, longtime Wire Taps stalwart Chelsea Janes will leave the Nats beat in 2019 to cover Iowa and the presidential election — two beats that she explained weren’t that different from each other.
Nationals gambling Anibal Sanchez can extend 2018 success into 2019 and beyond (NBCSW)
"They know he won’t make more than 25 starts. His history tells us that. They hope his regression is mild. If it is, he’s a viable fourth starter. If he reverts to the pitcher he was for his final three years in Detroit, betting on a late-career sudden change will turn out to be bad choice."
10 players who will make their name in 2019 (MLB.com)
Carter Kieboom is the best infield prospect the Nats have seen since Trea Turner, and will likely get at least a cup of coffee in the show next season.
Machado, Harper decision with Yankees, Dodgers: Money or titles (NY Post)
Yes, the Phillies and White Sox will offer the most to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — but both of them want to win. Enter the Dodgers and Yankees, two teams that should be out but are lurking anyway, the two teams that could help MLB improve its image. Add that on to the fact that both players prefer the Yankees over the Phillies, and things get even more interesting.
19 for 2019: The most intriguing athletes in the DMV for the upcoming year (The Athletic — Subscription Required)
High schoolers, Russian goalies, NFL running backs, D.C. United midfielders, and Victor Robles—"a dazzingly gifted 21-year-old who would replace Harper if he leaves"—make the cut.
The San Francisco Giants need Bryce Harper, and Bryce Needs the Giants (Around the Foghorn)
"The Giants are loaded with solid pieces everywhere, but nobody that truly puts them over the top and into contender conversations. Enter Bryce Harper."
The 2019 In/Out List (WaPo)
Captain America is out, and Captain Marvel is in; the Super Bowl is out and the Democratic primary debates are in; most relevantly, Bryce Harper's departure is out and John Wall's continued residence is in.