Why the Nationals won’t ‘Doolittle’ in the postseason next year

The Washington Nationals have fallen short of getting past the National League Division Series and into the NL championship game the past four out of five postseason runs.

But that’s not going to happen next year – at least, fans should keep telling themselves that.

Although there was big hope that the team in the nation’s capital could have a magical postseason as it filled every weak spot it had from previous seasons,  they still came up short.

Playing the Cubs in the NLDS, and boasting a better record than the 2016 champions, the Nationals were just one win away in the best-of-five series from securing a home-field advantage for theNational League Championship Series.

The Cubs had added pressure to repeat their success from 2016, so it seemed the Nationals could get past them in the first round of the playoffs, and the momentum would have carried them through the next round and ultimately the World Series.

But Nats fans are used to watching their team’s chances fizzle as they’ve experienced heartache year after year since 2012.

“It’s not how you end, not how you start,” said D.C. native and Nationals fan Ethan Anderson. “The Nationals have been playing mediocre baseball at best the last month. They won’t stand a chance against the red-hot Cubs in the first round.”

Anderson’s point turned out to be all-too-true as the Nationals were once again eliminated from the playoffs in the first round.

But Nats fans should still have hope for next season and the following reasons as to why they could have won this year will actually carry over to 2018.

 

Fresh Start

In previous years, the Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers have hindered the Nationals postseason dreams.

In 2017, the Giants are not even in the picture and the Cardinals are about to be eliminated from the postseason.

The Nationals are playing the Cubs, who they have never played in the postseason and can have a fresh outlook on their postseason run.

 

Stronger bullpen

The bullpen has been the weakness of the Nationals over the past couple of postseason runs.

However in 2017, the Nats have an elite closer in Sean Doolittle, who has been solid since he came over from the Oakland A’s.

A strong bullpen is key to a deep postseason run and the Nats won’t “do little” if he can sustain his domination from the pen.

 

Past experience

Many of the players on the 2017 Nationals have either experienced a postseason run ending in success or failure. Those who have had the experi

ence of a successful World Series run on a different team know what it takes to win.

The players who ended up failing to win the World Series know how it feels to lose in such a high stakes game and will be motivated not to feel that way again.

 

Nats have beaten the Cubs 

ESPN notes that the Nationals have a better record against the Cubs this year and won the final game 9-4 at Wrigley Field.

While this physical and mental advantage over the Cubs didn’t transpire in their playoff series against each other, it came down to the end and should give the Nationals a mental boost for next season against the Cubs.

 

Possibly last chance in a while

Bryce Harper has one more season on the Nats roster before becoming a free agent after the 2018 season, leaving only one more chance of getting the Nats fans their World Series crown.

The rush to win before Harper leaves may push the team to be more successful.

The Nationals could end up signing Harper to another contract and keeping him past 2018, but either way, the sooner the better for the Nats!

 

by Jake Anders

 

 

 

 

 

 

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