Cubs win Game Five, advance to NLCS
The Cubs won an absolutely insane Game Five against the Nationals, a classic loss for Washington sports as that city continues to suffer. It’s been 18 years since a Washington sports team has made the conference title in their respective sport, a combined 69 seasons. This game was particularly crushing, mainly due to an absurd fourth inning. The Nats entered that frame up by one with Max Scherzer coming to the mound out of the bullpen. He got the first two outs easily, then everything fell apart. The Cubs would end up scoring the go-ahead run on a strikeout in which the ball got by catcher Matt Wieters, who then threw the ball away. That inning also included a strange decision to intentionally walk Jason Heyward, a catcher’s interference to load the bases immediately followed by a hit batsman. Later in the game, with Washington down by one, Jose Lobaton was back-picked off first base. He was originally called safe, but replay revealed his foot came off the bag for a millisecond, and that was that.
What does this mean for the Red Sox? Well, for one thing, some old friends (and enemies in Joe Maddon) are heading back to the NLCS to take on the Dodgers. That should be entertaining. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see what the Nationals do from here as they continue to not be able to get over the hump. Finally, we could see some tweaks in the replay system as Lobaton getting called out seemed really cheap, even if it was the right call. Though, for what it’s worth, to me that play was on Lobaton far more than it was on some cheap replay system.
Prior to that wild NLDS game, MLB announced that the qualifying offer has been set at $17.4 million for this offseason. This is actually a bit lower than some of the earlier projections, which could make it slightly more likely for free agents to hit the market rather than taking the one-year deal. That’s the only effect this will have on the Red Sox, as none of the free agents they have departing will be offered this deal. Mitch Moreland is likely the best free agent, and while the Red Sox had to love most everything they got from their first baseman, they certainly won’t offer him over $17 million.
Ken Rosenthal had a new report on the mess in Atlanta on Thursday, and while there weren’t a ton of details we learned that this whole thing will not go away quietly. According to Rosenthal, the team is facing violations that are reportedly unprecedented. The Red Sox will be watching this situation very closely, as with the rest of the league. Atlanta could very well be looking at a loss of prospects, and any time young players are made free agents every team in baseball will be looking. The Braves have one of baseball’s top farm systems, too, and some real prospects could be made available. The top prospect who could become a free agent would be Kevin Maitan. There’s no indication that this is going to happen, but it’s a possibility, and if he is made available there will be a wild frenzy for his services, and Boston would certainly be involved.