Welcome to the last series of the year — and the final Wire Taps of this season. It’s been a pleasure following along with you all — hopefully, this winter will prove more interesting than last, and next season will prove more fun than this one.
Here’s what’s developing in Denver:
The Nationals were better than their record this season. So what happened? (WaPo)
The run-differential piece isn't surprising; teams with high differentials miss the playoffs all the time. The real shock is the talent of the roster that never really underperformed, but the team could never win games anyways — was it their baserunning and defense? Maybe — a run here and there makes a significant impact.
MLB's most unlikely playoff heroes (MLB.com)
It's not Jayson Werth, nor is it Jordan Zimmermann... this one, for once, isn't so obvious.
On Robles, McGowin, Roark, Zimmerman and attendance (MASN)
The Nationals actually *increased* attendance this year, despite everything being horrible and disappointing. Except for Juan Soto.
Each MLB team's 2018 MVP (MLB.com)
... Wander Suero, is that you?
Anthony Rendon, the Nationals' super-quiet superstar, finds a reason to use his voice (WaPo)
Rendon is now the de facto leader on the team, despite being the quietest guy in the room and some misgivings about spending his entire adult life in baseball — but he's found his voice at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, partially motivated religiously and partially by his fond memories of just being a kid. It's the first real profile of Anthony Rendon in five years, and it makes the wait worth it.
Johnston, Raquet, Tetreault at Nats instructs (MLB.com)
Nick Raquet lit up the Carolina League, and is now getting some extra help in West Palm Beach.
Nationals’ Kyle McGowin impresses in first major league start (WaPo)
McGowin forced his way into the rotation, a prospect who was never really a prospect, and then retired 11 hitters in a row to start the game. Had it not been for a blister, he could've gone further — but he very may well do so next year.