Ever the pessimist, here’s my chief concern on this Thursday morning: with the pennant clinched and a triumphant narrative emerging, the Nats will be caught flat-footed in the World Series.
Then again, the triumphant narrative also emerged post-NLDS, so who really knows if any of this means anything. Hopefully, the energy is still in the clubhouse.
Here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
Posnanski: The Year the Nationals Won the Pennant (The Athletic)
"Wallop would have loved Tuesday night in Washington. You could see many of his contemporaries in the crowd, people who have endured all the agony that Washington baseball has offered, and they finally got their moment, and it didn’t even take a deal with that devious devil, Mr. Applegate — although Daniel Hudson showing up and somehow becoming a dominant closer is a bit suspicious."
The Nats followed their own path to the World Series, metrics be damned (WaPo)
"The Nats (and Astros) may be damaged least by shifts because they have so many hitters who use the whole field, such as [Howie] Kendrick, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton and [Asdrúbal] Cabrera... On Tuesday, the Nats’ stance on team-building — keep getting to the dance and eventually you will get kissed — had a night of vindication."
Nationals coaches Bob Henley, Tim Bogar draw interest in managerial searches (WaPo)
The last time a Nationals coach got plucked to manage, it was Bo Porter from the third base coach's box going to Houston. Tim Bogar is tied to the Mets, while Bobby Henley has gotten an interview with the Padres, which would be, uh, interesting.
After World Series breakthrough, a reunion makes sense for Anthony Rendon and the Nationals (The Athletic)
The Nats have made it clear they want to retain Rendon. Rendon has made it clear throughout these playoffs that he's worth the money. He's remaining pretty coy about what comes next, though.
The District, reborn: 86 years later, the World Series comes back to town – this town (The Athletic)
A fantastic read from David Aldridge on the years without baseball, Sam Lacy, Shirley Povich, gentrification, DC sports culture, and so much more.
Nationals’ Game 4 win over Cardinals earns team’s best TV rating in Washington since 2012 (WaPo)
The Nationals game got a 14.8 rating, the highest they've received since Game 5 of 2012.
‘This is for him’: The House That Zim Built eyes a championship (The Athletic)
Zimmerman has been here almost since day one; has had needles in his shoulder, dealt with every injury imaginable — he is the face of the franchise, and the Nats want to get this World Series for him.
The Stars Aligned for the Nationals (Fangraphs)
The Nationals, by almost every metric, deserved to win the NLCS. Most excitingly, the leaderboards for Championship Win Probability Added—cWPA—are dominated by Rendon, Soto, [Max] Scherzer and [Aníbal] Sánchez, which makes sense given how low their odds were at the start. In short, the superstars stepped up to get them to this point.
If It’s Happened to the Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman Has Lived It (WSJ)
Ryan Zimmerman was anointed the face of the Nationals the moment he got the call up to the big leagues; he struggled through years of losing, of postseason heartbreak. Now, he'll man first base in the World Series.
Washington Nationals saved season in May (MLB.com)
“I don’t know that a young ballclub comes back from a 19-31 start,” Nationals reliever Daniel Hudson said. “I don’t know that it happens. You need guys like [Ryan Zimmerman], you need guys that have been around for a long time that have been through the wringer of losing seasons and winning seasons."
Sterling Sharp named AFL Pitcher of the Week (MLB.com)
Sterling Sharp is having a really good one in Arizona, as it turns out!
Nats are better than just a 'Cinderella' story (MLB.com)
The Nationals pulled off something of a miracle, but this isn't any team that put together some weird, scrappy run — this was always a good team, and the real surprise was the way they started. And if you ignore the bullpen, their metrics will back that up.
How baseball's changed since DC's last Series (MLB.com)
"The most career strikeouts for any pitcher as of 1933 belonged to Walter Johnson, who had 3,509. Johnson’s mark is now ninth, with Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 leading the way."
Stephen Strasburg shut down the opposition en route to the World Series (BtBS)
Stephen Strasburg never has and likely never will overshadow the pitcher he was supposed to become after his first start in 2010. But in these playoffs, he's looked about as close as you could get.
Anthony Rendon Isn’t Underrated Anymore (Fangraphs)
Anthony Rendon, since 2013, has put up 32.7 WAR. Since 2017, he's put up 19.9 WAR, only behind [Mike] Trout, [Mookie] Betts, and [Christian] Yelich. When he swings, it's at balls in the zone, and he's hitting them harder and harder. He is not an underrated player anymore, folks.
15-year journey to the World Series was worth the wait . (MASN)
As the now-35-year-old first baseman said: “Sometimes you’ve got to wait for good things.”
Watch the Nationals dance, drink and sing during clubhouse NLCS celebration (WaPo)
Folks, Stephen Strasburg danced with Gerard(o) Parra, the Nats played Calma, Sean Doolittle interrupted interviews with his lightsaber, Davey [Martinez] chugged beer from the trophy, and other shenanigans occurred.
Stark: Nats finally chase away their ghosts (The Athletic)
It doesn't really matter if the outside world can understand the 15-86 years of torture Washington baseball fans endured together; the heartbreaks consolidated into this decade were more than enough to justify the vindication felt on Tuesday night.
Washington's first World Series berth 85 years in the making (Yahoo!)
"The Nationals had grown up. A decade ago they’d lost 205 games across two seasons, bad baseball that netted them Strasburg and Bryce Harper. They got good, better anyway, and won four division titles in six years, seasons that in the end had them leaning on that one foot out the door. They lost in the division series all four times. It all speaks to the miles they put in along the Anacostia River."