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Wire Taps: Anthony Rendon homecoming in Houston; Nationals, Astros hope to rely on rotations; Howie Kendrick’s wild ride

Catch up on the last 24 hours in Nationals news while we wait for Game 1 of the 2019 World Series tomorrow night.

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MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday. Good luck focusing today as you worry about the Nats’ bats struggling after a seven-day layover, hitting Gerrit Cole, and playing the orange-hot Astros.

Alternatively, take a deep breath and take a nine-day nap to eschew the stress of the World Series.

(Sidenote: the last time the Nats and Astros played a meaningful game was in 2017, and it was a pretty weird game that featured Alejandro de Aza, Sammy Solis, a bullpen meltdown and then another near-meltdown in what ultimately ended as a Nationals win.)

Here’s the heat from Houston:

How Howie Kendrick went from undersized and unrecruited to the Nationals’ NLCS MVP (WaPo)
The Nats, almost certainly, would not be here without Howie Kendrick. But every part of Kendrick's story—unable to get a spot on a JuCo team, then the smallest kid on the field at 5'7", 110 pounds for his community college, then a 10th-round draft pick—is more incredible than the last.

Four Washington Post beat writers on their time covering the Washington Nationals (WaPo)
Barry Svrluga covered the team in a time of transition that saw the high-water mark for hope and the beginning of the first rebuild of the century. Chico Harlan had to find ways to cover the Nationals losing again and again, the misery that opened the door for the Nats' decade of dominance; Adam Kilgore got to watch the Nats play for each other in 2012 and desperately try to recreate that, failing every year (until this year, he contends). And Chelsea Janes (who returns for the World Series!) watched those repeated playoff failures, the life leaving Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper's eyes every October.

‘Blame me’: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo would say, for the underachieving roster. Now, he should get the credit. (The Athletic)
By flipping key spots on the 2018 roster ahead of the 2019 season—think Kurt Suzuki, Patrick Corbin, Brian Dozier, Yan Gomes—and making mid-season additions that paid remarkable dividends (think Daniel Hudson and Gerardo Parra), Mike Rizzo constructed one of the most creative World Series teams of the decade. Now, it's time for him to get some credit. (Apparently, he and Davey Martinez would also sit in the manager's office after games in May and curse, which is heartening, because all that optimism certainly was frustrating.)

Anthony Rendon's World Series homecoming (
Anthony Rendon, a Houston native, an Astros fan as a kid and a player for Rice in college, apparently hasn't changed that much since high school: an easy-going guy who cares about the people in his life and is way, way too calm on the diamond.

World Series throw-down: Astros, Nats relying on rotations (AP News)
Anthony Rendon is one of the greatest hitters in the game right now,” Cole said. “There’s no real way to get him out. You just kind of hope that he misses some balls or he scorches them right at your guys, I guess.

Capital hill: Astros, Nats put World Series eyes on pitching (AP News)
It's likely Gerrit Cole against Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg facing Justin Verlander, and Patrick Corbin facing Zack Greinke for the first three games of the World Series, three matchups that will probably be decent.

Nationals vs. Astros World Series is perfect end to a bizarre MLB season (SBNation)
In the year of the juiced (and then unjuiced) ball, the Nats and the Astros rode their predicted paths to the World Series: dominant starting pitching coupled with good and stellar offenses, respectively. Now, the two teams—both of which are facing difficult offseasons ahead—will get a crack at raising the Commissioner's Trophy.

An open letter to the Washington Nationals: Bring back Silent Cal (The Athletic)
The last time the Nationals (okay, the Senators) won a World Series, Calvin Coolidge threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Therefore, it's time to bring back the Coolidge Racing President. Who says no?

MLB: Astros are heaviest World Series favorites since 2004 (Yahoo!)
According to people familiar with betting (not me), lines bigger than -200 are super rare. The 'Stros are unquestionably the favorites, but are they *that* much better than the Nationals in a comparable way to the Red Sox in regards to the Rockies?

Dominant rotations meet in World Series (
The last time seemingly every dominant pitcher in the league matched up in the World Series, it was 1945 — and there were significantly fewer teams to choose from back then. Also, this World Series obliterated the record for the most strikeouts recorded by the starting rotations combined.

Nationals-Astros position by position (
First, let's get something out of the way: Nats are not better without Bryce Harper, Mike Petriello says, nor is this the battle of old-school versus all-analytics. The Nats have reasonable advantages in left field, at catcher, in their rotation, and in right field, and the Astros have big advantages almost everywhere else. has the 'Stros in 6.

Former Tigers pennant winners reunite in WS (
Jim Leyland will be at the World Series, watching his old rotation arms go at it in Washington, years after he did everything he could to keep them healthy. (Apparently, Scherzer and Verlander are equally intense, though Aníbal Sánchez is slightly more relaxed.) In any case, the three horses that Mike Ilitch expected to anchor his rotation for the decade are all back in the Fall Classic, but none of them are on the Tigers.

Raines recalls Montreal, roots for Nats; others, maybe not (AP News)
Tim Raines knows it's not the Expos in the series, but he's still excited to see the franchise in the fall classic. Some long-term Expos fans, though, don't exactly feel any sort of a connection.

Nats Park will hold watch parties for World Series away games (WTOP)
Free parking, on the big screen, concessions, rain or shine. Be there.