I apologize for the clickbait title.
Bryce Harper was not the reason the Nationals were unable to reach the World Series before. The Nationals suffered three brutal losses in Game 5 of the NLDS since 2012, and the culprit was always pitching. Drew Storen allowing four runs in his blown save against the Cardinals in 2012. The Dodgers’ four-run seventh inning in 2016. Max Scherzer’s disastrous four-run relief appearance against the Cubs in 2017. Bryce Harper was not the problem in any of those series. And when they lost to the Giants in 2014 in four games, he was the best player on the Nationals. In a close series between two great teams, luck is a huge factor. This October it was finally the Nationals’ turn to score four runs in an inning with Howie Kendrick’s grand slam.
But enough talk about past misfortunes. While it may have taken a minor miracle to escape the Dodgers, the Nationals ran right through the Cardinals with barely a scratch. It’s hard to imagine a better performance from a starting rotation in a series. The Nationals are now just four wins away from their first championship.
I’m excited about the World Series matchup. I’ve never seen a better pair of rotations face off in the Fall Classic. Each team has a Cy Young winner, a number one overall draft pick, and a third all-star on the staff. We may see a few games where neither team can score more than three runs.
The Astros clearly have the edge on offense, though the Nationals have a potent lineup as well. The better bullpen also belongs to Houston, and it’s not particularly close. Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson are the only relievers the Nationals can trust, whereas the Astros have several relief pitchers who have been reliable this postseason. The only advantage the Nationals have is with their starting rotation, and it’s not a huge advantage.
But it’s the only advantage they’ll need. The Nationals’ bullpen woes won’t be relevant when their starters pitch deep into games. The depth of the Astros’ lineup won’t matter either against those star pitchers. Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Trea Turner, and Howie Kendrick will provide just enough offense for Washington. I’ll take the Nationals in six games this series, with MVP honors going to a dominant Stephen Strasburg.