Washington Nationals win the World Series
Well, the 2019 Major League Baseball season is over. The Nationals and Astros suited up for a Game Seven on Wednesday, and it was a fantastic game. First, a spoiler. The Nationals won the World Series. It didn’t always look like that was going to happen, though. Max Scherzer was on the mound for Washington, and he didn’t quite look like Scherzer. His stuff was good, but not as good as it could be. His command wasn’t there, but it wasn’t a disaster either. He ended up walking a tightrope for five innings, but his team was down 2-0 by the time his outing was over. They were down because, on the other end, Zack Greinke was absolutely unhittable.
That all started to change in the seventh, and it started with Anthony Rendon. Because of course it did. Rendon has been a late-inning damage machine, and he smashed a solo homer off Greinke to cut Washington’s deficit in half in the seventh. Greinke would then walk Juan Soto, and that somewhat surprisingly ended his inning. On the one hand, of course a manager is going to be ultra-aggressive in Game Seven. On the other hand, Greinke was dealing and giving up a homer and a walk to Rendon and Soto isn’t exactly a sign of the apocalypse. But, he was taken out and Will Harris was brought in. Sure enough, Howie Kendrick gave Washington a lead with a two-run homer.
That was basically that. Patrick Corbin was money out of the Nationals bullpen, following Scherzer with three scoreless innings. Washington put up three more runs in their final two frames, all while Gerrit Cole hung out in the bullpen. It was bizarre managing from A.J. Hinch, but more importantly it was just incredible late-inning baseball from the Nationals. Daniel Hudson ended the improbable run with a strikeout against Michael Brantley, perhaps the most difficult player in baseball to strike out. Stephen Strasburg was named World Series MVP.
Sox Spin: Well, first and foremost, the Red Sox are officially no longer world champions. We knew it was coming for a while now, but it still stings a little. We can at least take solace that the Yankees, Astros and Rays are also not world champions. It doesn’t heal the pain, but it helps. There’s also the lessons to take away from the Nationals. Every year teams try to take lessons from the champions, but I’m not sure we learned anything we didn’t already know from Washington. They built around starting pitching, but so did the Red Sox. They were aggressive in acquiring top-level talent, which the Red Sox also rode to a championship. Washington’s front office has long been perhaps the most underrated in baseball, and hopefully this will spark an aggressive offseason for all teams, and especially Boston. I’m not getting my hopes up, though.
It sure seems like Gerrit Cole is leaving
As I mentioned above, Cole did not appear in Game Seven on Wednesday. This was surprising given it was the last game of the year, and it was even more surprising given he warmed up during the game. So, obviously reporters wanted to talk to him. Well, he certainly sounded like a guy who will be on a new team in 2020. Cole is probably (definitely?) the top free agent on the board this winter, with Anthony Rendon and almost certainly Stephen Strasburg joining him. It was always more likely than not that he’d leave, mostly because Houston has all but said they won’t be able to afford him. So, when he was asked about leaving Cole said “I’m not an employee of the team.” He also did the interview while wearing a hat representing Scott Boras. Uhh, yeah.
Some have criticized Cole for this, which just seems wild to me. The Astros entire deal in their player development machine has been to treat players like interchangeable assets. That’s how they ended up with Roberto Osuna. If that’s how they are going to run things, why in the world would players treat the team like anything more than a road to a paycheck. There is no loyalty one way, so there should be no expectation for it the other way. Anyway, the Astros are still going to be very, very good in 2020 and they’ll probably grab some other mediocre pitcher and turn them into a star. But Cole is not going to be at the head of that rotation.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox are not going to sign Cole. Let’s get that out of the way now. It would be awesome if they were there, but it’s not going to happen. There are going to be a lot of teams in on the possible Cy Young, and unfortunately that includes the Yankees. The good news is New York has been absurdly risk-averse in recent free agencies, so hopefully that continues here. I, for one, am not ready for a world in which Cole is on the Yankees. My gut feeling now is that he’ll be with the Angels, but obviously nothing is clear at this point.