The World Series Shifts To Our Nation’s Capital

After two games in Houston, the Nationals are two wins away from their first ever World Series Championship. Now, the World Series shifts to Washington, DC and Nationals Park. This is a big moment for DC, who have witnessed two championships in the past few years. Both the Washington Capitals and the Mystics have won championships in DC. Now, the Nationals can be next.

For Houston, it’s officially crunch time. After aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander couldn’tworld series shifts stop the red hot Nats, Zack Greinke looks to stop the bleeding. As the World Series shifts to Nationals Park, the Nationals will rely on Anibal Sanchez to keep the ball rolling. After almost completing a no-hitter against the Cardinals, Sanchez looks to dominate in Game 3 on Friday night.

The World Series Shifts to DC

The Nationals look to dominate at home in Games 3 and 4 after two great wins. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasberg took control in their respective starts in Houston, while Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander took the loses for Houston. Ryan “Mr. National” Zimmerman, who is in his 15th season with DC, took Cole deep in the 2nd inning of Game 1 to get things started. Game 1 ended with a score of 5-4. Game 2 saw a battle of the aces between Strasberg and Verlander. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the 7th, the Nationals scored 6 runs off of Verlander. A home run by Kurt Suzuki led the way in that inning. The final score in Game 2 was 12-3.

Now, the Nationals head home to Nationals Park to try and complete the sweep. A possible Game 5 will also be held at Nationals Park. While the Nationals and Astros have named their Game 3 starters, their Game 4 starters for Saturday night have yet to be announced. For Houston, they’re looking to try and even the series. Their offense was hot in the ALCS, and it looks as though Alex Bregman is starting to find his groove, especially after hitting the two run home run off of Strasberg in the first inning.

World Series Predictions

Last time, I said that the Nationals were going to take it in seven games. After the last two games, and seeing how their offense exploded last night, I’m going with Nationals in five. Houston needs to figure out what is going on with Cole and Verlander, and hope that Greinke is up for the task of stopping DC tomorrow night. 2017 World Series MVP George Springer was off to a good start in the first game, but struggled in the second. The rest of Houston’s lineup needs to catch fire, especially now that it looks like Bregman is heating up after a slow start to the postseason.

For the Nationals, they need to stay hot. Juan Soto has been on a tear in Games 1 and 2. In Game 1, he went 3-4 with a home fun and a double. NLCS MVP Howkie Kendrick, who has been the DH the last two games, is slowly reheating. Game 1 wasn’t a good game for Kendrick, but he bounced back in Game 2, going 2-5 in the game. Pitching is also a key in the next set of games. With the next 2 or 3 games in DC, the DH is not an option, so pitchers will be batting. While DC is obviously used to this, the Astros will have to think of ways to keep their line up and bullpen intact.

If I were to pick an MVP for the series right now, I’d choose Yuli Gurriel for Houston, and Adam Eaton for the Nationals. Both players have come up big for their teams in the first two games, and I hope that they continue their success in the next games.

The 115th Edition of the Fall Classic

The 115th edition of the Fall Classic is finally set to go. For the National League, the Washington Nationals will be in their first fall classic, while the American League Champions the Houston Astros will be looking for their second championship in three years. The first game is set to take place on Tuesday night in Houston.

This series will be one nobody should miss. From dominate pitchers to the offensivefall classic abilities of both teams, this will be one to remember. While the Nationals have had about a week off before starting the fall classic, Jose Altuve walked it off against the Yankees on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at both teams before the first pitch is thrown, shall we?

Looking At The Fall Classic

The first game of the 2019 World Series is set for Tuesday night at 8:08pm at Minute Maid Park. The Nationals will have Max Scherzer going in the first game, followed by Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. For Houston, It’ll be Gerrit Cole for game one, followed by Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke.

For the Astros, this will be their third trip to the World Series. As a member of the National League, they lost in 2005 to the Chicago White Sox. They went back in 2017 as a member of the American League, and beat the LA Dodgers in seven games. Now, here they are once again looking for the teams next title. As for the Nationals, this is the team’s first run at the World Series since moving from Montreal. The last Washington team to win the World Series was the Washington Senators in 1924. The team was relocated to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins.

The Washington Nationals Look For First Title

After sweeping the Cardinals at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals sent DC into a playoff frenzy. Not too long ago, both the Washington Capitals and the Washington Mystics celebrated Championships. Now, the Nationals are four wins away from having another parade in the Nation’s Capitol.

Between their offense, and their talented rotation of Scherzer, Strasberg and Corbin, they will be the team to beat. They’ve overcome a lot in the postseason so far, and look to continue DC’s success at bringing home championships. The team’s first home game is on Friday, and Nationals Park will surely be packed with Nationals fans ready to sing the ever popular song, Baby Shark.

Houston’s Looking For Their Second Championship

It took all of six games to defeat the Yankees, and the Astros are four wins away from winning their second Championship in team history. After winning in 2017, they came close last year, but were defeated by the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Now, they look to reclaim the trophy. First, they need to beat the Nationals, who have a lot to prove.

In the offseason, they acquired Gerrit Cole, and then acquired Zack Greinke at the trade deadline. With these two acquisitions in their rotation, they have been a dominate force in the American League. After winning the World Series in 2017, they kept most of their team, and they have been producing ever since.

World Series Prediction

I have the Nationals winning in seven games. Yes, the Astros have a great core group that was there when they won in 2017. However, the stats seem to side more with DC. The Nationals weren’t supposed to make it this far. Now, after beating the Dodgers and Cardinals, here they are. It’ll be a fun and historic series, there’s no doubt about it. Still, I see a parade in DC. Sorry Houston, you may have a problem in this series.

2019 MLB Top Five Starting Pitchers

Pitchers do not only win Cy Young awards, they win MVPs. Two starting pitchers have been named Most Valuable Player since 2011, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. Some other starting pitches to win a MVP: Don Newcombe, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Roger Clemens. All of these players were top five starting pitchers for the majority of their respective careers.

Starting pitchers also get paid massive contracts. Both David Price (Red Sox) and ZackTop Five Starting Pitchers Greinke (Diamondbacks) signed free agent contracts in the 2016 off-season worth more than $30 million per year. Nationals ace Max Scherzer signed a 7-yr/$210 million contract a year earlier in 2015.

Starting pitchers also help teams by setting the tone. To begin last season’s World Series, Red Sox ace Chris Sale fired a strikeout on a 2-2 pitch to Dodgers second baseman Brian Dozier. The Sox went on to win the series in five games to capture their 9th World Series championship. Below is a list of 2019 MLB Top Five Starting Pitchers.

 Top Five Starting Pitchers – 5 – Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians)

Kluber’s strengths are his high strikeout volume and durability. He has recorded at least 222 strikeouts and 203 innings pitched in five consecutive seasons. “Klubot” is a two-time Cy Young award winner and has finished in the top-3 voting of the Cy Young in four of the past five years. He is the ace of the Cleveland Indians and is under team control through 2021. The 32-year-old turns 33 in early April. He is still very much in his prime, as Kluber has won at least 18 games in three straight seasons.

Top Five Starting Pitchers – 4 – Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)

Baseball’s best pitcher in 2018 was arguably Jacob deGrom. He won his first Cy Young after leading the MLB in ERA (1.70). He also finished in the top-5 in innings pitched, strikeouts, and WHIP. Ironically deGrom and Kluber both pitched for Stetson University in Central Florida. deGrom is the ace on the Mets starting staff, a rotation that also includes Noah Syndergaard, and is set to become a free agent after next season.

Top Five Starting Pitchers – 3 – Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox)

Sale would be higher on this list had he pitched more starts last season. He finished 2018 with 27 starts, missing time in the second half due to a nagging shoulder injury. His ERA (2.11), WHIP (0.86), and FIP (1.98) were career bests, however, his 158 innings were the fewest since 2012. Sale has also surprisingly never won a Cy Young, even though he has been voted an All-Star in each of the past seven seasons. He has started the past three for the American League. Sale and the Red Sox recently agreed to a five-year extension on March 23rd.

Top Five Starting Pitchers – 2 – Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)

When asked who is the best pitcher of this generation, most fans would argue Clayton Kershaw. The correct answer might actually be Verlander. The right-hander just turned 36 in February and is very much still in his prime. He has thrown at least 200 innings in 11 of the past 12 seasons. JV has finished second in Cy Young voting three times, including last year, when recorded career-highs in strikeouts (290), hits allowed, FIP, WHIP, and strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. Like Sale, Verlander was just awarded a contract extension for 2 years and became official today. Verlander has a plethora of playoff experience. He owns a 13-7 record, 3.19 ERA, and a 1.02 WHIP in 152 postseason innings.

Top Five Starting Pitchers – 1 – Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)

“Mad Max” has been baseball’s best pitcher for the past six seasons. Since 2013, he has made the All-Star Game each season (started 3), finished in the Cy Young voting top-5 each season (won 3), and has struck out at least 240 batters in each season. In the past three years, Scherzer has led the National League in WHIP and strikeouts. The only slight on Scherzer’s resume is that he has not won a playoff start since the 2013 ALDS.

Honorable mentions: Blake Snell (Tampa Bay Rays), Aaron Nola (Philadelphia Phillies), Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians), Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers), Zack Greinke (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Hawking Autographs Hurts Baseball’s Integrity

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Autographs 101. Members give advice and judge the authenticity of signatures. One of the things I love about the group is that its members truly love the game of baseball. Seeing someone proudly display pictures of hawking autographstheir grandfather’s Ted Williams autograph is exciting. One of things that really bothers me though is when someone shows of an autograph they got for free at a game and wants to sell it. Someone gets a baseball signed by Kris Bryant or David Ortiz, then posts a picture of it asking for an obscene amount. Hawking autographs for personal profit not only hurts the game’s integrity, but it’s a selfish thing to do.

I’d go to ballgames as a kid hoping I’d get a few autographs. Other teens and I would stand behind each other patiently waiting for the signatures of Brett Butler, Moises Alou, Pat Hentgen, and Andy Petite, who all signed for me. Nowadays though I see full grown men shoving kids away to get an autograph. Some ballparks now have a Kids Only section where they can get autographs.

These hawkers get hundreds for Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and David Ortiz. Knowing that fans are profiting off of them, some ballplayers now refuse to sign for adults. Others will sign a ball but won’t do it on the sweet spot because they know a fan won’t be able to get as much for it. Washington Nationals’ pitcher Max Scherzer is going an extra step to ensure fans aren’t hawking autographs. Scherzer set up a website where fans can buy his autograph with all the profits going directly to charity. This angers some fans who won’t be able to make a 100% anymore. They brought it on themselves though.

Hawking Autographs Ruins It For Other Fans

I attended the Hall of Fame Classic game last weekend in Cooperstown. Hundreds of fans stood behind a fence on the first base line waiting for Hall of Famers to come and sign. Most were little kids. But I saw many adults with 2×3 foot posters hoping that someone like Wade Boggs would sign it. How obnoxious do you have to be to not only take a kid’s place, but lug around something that large?

I attended the game with my buddy Angelo who told me a story about Alex Rodriguez. A few years ago, his brother stood outside the ballpark for A-Rod. Most of those who were waiting were little kids who A-Rod is apparently more than happy to sign for. But an overzealous fan almost ruined it for everyone when he handed a box of a dozen baseballs to A-Rod asking him to sign each one. “C’mon man, really?” A-Rod said to the guy. “I know what you’re going to do with those.” A-Rod ignored the guy and continued signing for the kids. The guy got nothing, and deservedly so.

I collect autographs myself. I mail baseball cards to former players, and pay a fee to meet them in Cooperstown. One thing I won’t do is push kids aside. If you think that’s okay then you need to get a life.

What Would it Take To Get Doug Fister?

Doug Fister

With nine games in the books, the Boston Red Sox have taken two out of three games three times this season. Yes, now two out of three is nice, but Boston seems to be relying on their offense way too much. Teams that have done that in the past, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays, have not been able to succeed down the stretch.

Three times in nine games this season, a Boston starter has allowed over seven runs and that’s something to be worried about. Well, Washington has a pretty good pitcher named Doug Fister Doug Fister that could be up for grabs.

Right-handed Doug Fister, 31, is entering his second season with the pitching-heavy Washington Nationals. Fister is also entering his last season under contract and will be heavily targeted come free agency. So, what does Washington do?

Washington has shown it’s not going to shy away from committing big time money to big time players, as they gave ace Max Scherzer seven-years and $210 million, but Fister could be in a different situation. Washington’s lineup has really struggled at times this season and we’ve seen Boston go three deep into their bench and still put up ten runs. Washington also has 28-year-old Jordan Zimermann(2.66 ERA in ‘15) up at the end of the year as well.

 Here is my proposed trade:

Boston Trades-

1B/OF- Allen Craig

3B- Garin Cecchini

Washington Trades-

SP- Doug Fister

This trade would be a good deal for both teams. Boston would be able to grab that work horse veteran starter that they desperately need come playoff time. Fister and his 3.32 career ERA would immediately work at the top of the Red Sox rotation, adding an arm Red Sox fans would be comfortable throwing out there come the playoffs. Justin Masterson would be able to slide into the bullpen, where he excels, and also be able to make spot starts here and there. Washington would acquire an a-plus bat in Allen Craig who can fill in for the injury prone, Ryan Zimmerman. Craig would also bolster a thin Nationals bench. Cecchini would serve in a utility player form for Washington, as he can play third base as well as outfield.

Is Tom Werner Hinting at a Jon Lester Return?

Jon LesterTom Werner might not always be the lead spokesperson for the Boston Red Sox, but, when he does speak, he has shown to have great insight into the workings that John Henry and Larry Lucchino don’t normally give on a regular basis.

In an interview on WEEI Thursday September 11, the Red Sox chairman talked about all the money the Red Sox will have to spend this off-season.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team,” Werner told WEEI.

Not only does he want to spend the money, but the front office also knows what it needs in order to improve in 2015—pitching.

“We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve,” said Werner about what the team needs to do this offseason to get better in the coming years. “I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of Rusney Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.”

It has been apparent that the Red Sox need a front-tier pitcher who can step up in the mound every five days to give the team the chance to win nearly 35 times a season. But does this mean Jon Lester is in the fold?

Lester was part of a package to acquire slugger Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics, and he has shown that he wants to make the big bucks with his last free-agency deal of value.

The 30-year-old is not the only option the Red Sox have to spend money on during the offseason. James Shields, Max Scherzer and even Edison Volquez could be near the top of the Red Sox rotation and old friend Justin Masterson should see a long-term deal after a couple successful seasons as a front-line starter for the Cleveland Indians before a down year in 2014.

Lester might just be one of a few options the Red Sox take a look at, but Werner definitely wants to see improvement for everyone’s sake. Another last place finish is not what fans, or the ownership, want to see going forward.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” said Werner to WEEI. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being first next year.”

If the Red Sox spend the money on pitching, and possibly trade for one more bat, then a first place finish might be a plausible outcome in 2015. But Werner and Co. are focused on spending the money on a pitcher who may or may not be Lester.