Can you believe we are here? That question could be answered in so many ways. The regular season ends today, but when you start out your season at 19-31, you have no realistic expectations that you can make it to the postseason. The 2005 Houston Astros could be the best “comp” to this 2019 Washington Nationals squad. Both teams had early season setbacks then got healthy and found their way after being 12-games below .500. That Houston team won 89 for the season and went all the way to the World Series on the strength of their Big-3 of Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte. They even had a Strickland in their bullpen (Scott Strickland) and so many other similarities. For the Nationals, they could learn from that 2005 Astros team, and maybe general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez studied them.
Some fans who were upset with the Nats on May 23rd don’t want to return because they cannot handle the fact that the Nats turned it around with less than a 5% chance. There were some who did not want to call the time of death of the 2019 Nats back in May. Fortunately, some remembered the 2005 Astros and the 2013 Dodgers who were both 12 games under .500.
We were sent that tweet yesterday from @BrasilNationals and thanks for digging that treasure up as some were jumping off ledges, but clearly some others had not given up. We called it as we saw it as “Groundhog Day” in early May, and the “Rollercoaster of Ineptitude” on May 23rd because that is what it was at those points in time. It did not mean the season was over, however it looked highly improbable. If your stomach can handle it, re-watch that 4-game series with the Mets from May 20-May 23. It was excruciating, but fortunately the Nationals never gave up like some fans did — but clearly not all fans gave up, and we never gave up. The reason why Davey Martinez should be the Manager of the Year is because he never gave up and kept pushing his one game at a time philosophy, and his team has now won over 90 games to reach the postseason and clinch Home Field Advantage for the Wild Card game.
Speaking of Manager of the Year, all BBWAA voters, must return their ballots today with their casted vote that will name the Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards. Dave Martinez will be among the top four in his category with Mike Shildt of the Cardinals, Craig Counsell of the Brewers and Brian Snitker of the Braves. The awards are based on the regular season only, and whatever happens in the postseason has no impact on the votes.
So here we are at game #162, and the Nats will be trying to get their bench players some reps today. The Nats will send the righty Joe Ross to the mound, and the Cleveland Indians will start Mike Clevinger who you can expect will not pitch deep into this game. The righthander is the best the Indians had this season with a 2.39 ERA and a 13-3 record. When Clev was set to pitch today, the Indians had hoped he was going to clinch for them a Wild Card spot. To win 93 games like the Indians have — and go home seems so unfair — but that is baseball — a game of who fails the least gets rewarded. In this case, the American League Wild Card went to the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, and both of those teams won north of 95 games this season.
Cleveland Indians at Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 3:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN2, SportsTime Ohio, TBS, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):