Tag Archives: Ryan Madson

Important off-season dates for the Phillies and Major League Baseball

Rob Manfred leads MLB into a big off-season
It has finally arrived, one of the most anticipated Major League Baseball off-season periods in years. Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been led to believe that the team will be a major player in the free agent market during this ‘Hot Stove’ season.
As of 9:00 a.m. EDT on Monday morning the contracts expired for dozens of players. They are now free to negotiate for deals covering 2019 and beyond. Their former team has exclusive negotiating rights for the first five days. After that, it’s on to the open market.
The list of available names at this point includes Bryce HarperManny MachadoJosh DonaldsonCraig KimbrelMichael BrantleyPatrick CorbinAndrew McCutchenDallas Keuchel, and World Series MVP Steve Pearce among dozens of others.
The list of big names could increase by midnight on Halloween, as star pitchers Clayton Kershaw and David Price have until that point to decide whether or not to exercise player options on their contracts. If either or both turns down the option, they would also join the free agent ranks.
A number of players who appeared with the Phillies during the last few years are also available as free agents. That list includes Freddy GalvisWilson RamosAsdrubal CabreraClay BuchholzCharlie Morton, and Jake Diekman.
Other names available on the market and very familiar to Phillies fans from their time with the team include outfielder Hunter Pence, starting pitcher J.A. Happ, and reliever Ryan Madson. The latter two own World Series rings from the Phillies 2008 championship team.
Here is an exhaustive list of the important dates to look for as we move through the MLB off-season and into the start of the 2019 season:
OCTOBER 31: Halloween. Okay, okay. Besides candy, the majority of contract options must be exercised by teams or players for the following season. Already picked up were team options on players such as Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Carrasco. Shortstop Elvis Andrus exercised his player option. The big name here is Clayton Kershaw with the Dodgers. He has until the clock strikes midnight after the trick-or-treaters are tucked in bed to make his decision.
NOVEMBER 2: This is the deadline by which MLB teams must tender a qualifying offer (click link for detailed explanation) to eligible free agents. The one-year offer this season would be for $17.9 million. For example, the Nationals could make a qualifying offer to Harper. He could accept and play with them next year on a contract worth $17.9, or decline and become a free agent. If a qualifying offer is made, players have 10 days maximum to make their decision. However, players acquired in mid-season deals cannot have such an offer made. Therefor, the Dodgers cannot make a qualifying offer to Machado. He is automatically headed to free agency.

Phillies are expected to be major players in the bidding for free agent Harper.
NOVEMBER 3: The date on which the full and open free agency period will begin. This would, for instance, be the earliest that the Phillies could formally negotiate with Harper or Machado. It is also the earliest that free agents can sign with a new team, though you won’t see that happen in most instances since the player would need to negotiate a contract first. That would likely happen after entertaining multiple offers.
NOVEMBER 4: Rawlings and Major League Baseball will announce the winners of the 2018 Gold Glove Awards.
NOVEMBER 5: Finalists will be announced by MLB for each of the major awards, including the Most Valuable Player in each league, the Cy Young Award, the Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. Also, the MLB Executive of the Year will be announced on this date.
NOVEMBER 6-8: GM meetings held in Carlsbad, California. Big deals don’t usually happen here, but the groundwork is often laid for those consummated later, including at the later Winter Meetings.

NOVEMBER 7: Winners of the Wilson Defensive Players of the Year announced.
NOVEMBER 8Silver Slugger Award winners announced.
NOVEMBER 8-15: MLB Japan All-Star Series tour with games against stars from NPB.
NOVEMBER 11: The IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) begins announcement of their annual MLB award winners with the AL & NL Top Relief Pitcher honors. The IBWAA will announce their further award winners over the next few days on the same schedule as the BBWAA.
NOVEMBER 12: The BBWAA official NL and AL Rookie of the Year Awards announced.
NOVEMBER 12: Deadline for free agents to accept or reject any qualifying offers that may have been extended. Those who accept will play for their 2018 ball club again next season at a $17.9 million salary. Players who reject the offer will have draft pick compensation attached to any new team signing them as a free agent.
NOVEMBER 13: The NL and AL Manager of the Year Awards announced.

Principal owner John Middleton will take part in the owner’s meetings. He will have some big financial decisions to make this off-season.
NOVEMBER 14: The NL and AL Cy Young Awards announced.
NOVEMBER 14-15: MLB owner’s meetings held in Atlanta, GA. Usually just off-field matters discussed here.
NOVEMBER 15: The NL and AL Most Valuable Players announced.
NOVEMBER 19: The NL and AL Comeback Players of the Yearannounced.
NOVEMBER 20: The AL Designated Hitter of the Year Award announced. Also, my birthday, a far more important event.
NOVEMBER 20: Deadline for MLB teams to add eligible minor league players to their 40-man roster in order to protect those prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.
NOVEMBER 26-29: Meeting of the MLBPA in Dallas, TX. The player’s union key figures are already gearing up for the expiration of the current CBA, which still has three years to run.
NOVEMBER 30: The non-tender deadline. This is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration and pre-arbitration eligible players.
DECEMBER 9: The Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Today’s Game” committee (1988-present) gets their turn this year. This is the date on which they will announce whether or not they have selected anyone from that period for enshrinement. Leading contenders being considered include Mark McGwireWill ClarkDavid Cone, and Bret Saberhagen.
DECEMBER 9-132018 Winter Meetings will take place at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
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The Flyin’ Hawaiian was a big pickup for the Phillies in the December 2004 MLB Rule 5 Draft.
DECEMBER 13Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies have cashed in big at previous Rule 5 Drafts with players including Grover Cleveland Pete AlexanderShane VictorinoPinky WhitneyClay Dalrymple, and Odubel Herrera.
JANUARY 8-13, 2019Phillies Vacation to Paradise trip to the Bahamas. Six days at the Royal Bahamian Resort & Spa with Greg LuzinskiRhys HoskinsScott Kingery, the Phanatic, and more.
JANUARY 11: Contract salary figures must be exchanged by this date between teams and those players eligible for arbitration. Despite the exchange of arbitration figures, the teams and players are still free to continue negotiating to try and reach an agreement up until the actual arbitration hearing. Those will take place at individual dates set by the arbitrators.
MID-JANUARY 2019: Results of the voting by the BBWAA for the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2019 will be announced. Leading contenders for enshrinement include Mariano RiveraEdgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina. Among the interesting candidates who should receive wide support are Barry BondsRoger Clemens, and the late former Phillies star pitcher Roy Halladay.
FEBRUARY 1-20, 2019: Salary arbitration hearings will take place during this period.
FEBRUARY 13, 2019: Spring training camps open for most teams with pitchers and catchers due to report.
FEBRUARY 21, 2019: Play begins in the Cactus League in Arizona.
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Before you know it the Phillies and their fans will return to Clearwater, Florida for spring training 2019.
FEBRUARY 22, 2019: Play begins in the Grapefruit League in Florida. The Phillies will open play that afternoon by visiting the Tampa Bay Rays at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida.
FEBRUARY 23, 2019: Phillies first home spring training game at 1:05PM EST hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.
MARCH 20-21, 2019MLB Opening Series in Tokyo, Japan between the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners.
MARCH 23, 2019: Ninth annual Phillies Charities 5K.
MARCH 25, 2019: Phillies close spring training by hosting the Tampa Bay Rays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida.
MARCH 28, 2019: Opening Day for the Phillies and all other teams across Major League Baseball. The Phillies will open up by hosting the defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
Keep following us here at Phillies Nation all during the fall and winter months. We’ll be covering and giving our take on all of the top news regarding the ball club, especially any free agent signings. You’ll also get to enjoy a number of Phillies history pieces over the off-season, including my own “Philography” series of Phillies biographies.

Dodgers will have 2008 Phillies World Series hero Ryan Madson in their bullpen for the Fall Classic

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Madson will be trying to win his third World Series ring with a third different team

The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic with Saturday night’s 5-1 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series over the host Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The Dodgers will now open the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park in Boston on tonight against the host Red Sox.
This is a return trip for the Dodgers, who a year ago advanced to the 2017 World Series. Los Angeles was edged out in seven games by the Houston Astros last October.
This also marks something of a return to baseball’s biggest stage for two key members of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team, second baseman Chase Utley and relief pitcher Ryan Madson.
While Utley and Madson are under contract with and have played with the club this season, only Madson will actually be seeing action in the Fall Classic roster that was submitted today.
Madson began this season with the Washington Nationals. He was dealt to the Dodgers on August 31, three days after his 38th birthday.
He would make nine appearances for Los Angeles in September and was particularly effective over the final two weeks of the season. Madson allowed just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings down the stretch as the Dodgers battled for a sixth straight National League West Division crown.
Madson was on the Dodgers roster and made two appearances in the NLDS win over Atlanta Braves. He was then included on the NLCS roster in the victory over the Brewers. All total, he has seven postseason appearances so far this year, allowing just one run on six hits over 6.1 innings across seven games with a 6/1 K:BB ratio.
Utley has not appeared at all in this postseason for the Dodgers, though he has been given credit by players such as Matt Kemp and Enrique ‘Kike’ Hernandez for helping them.
A decade ago, both Utley and Madson were pivotal players in their prime as the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games to win the club’s second-ever and most recent World Series championship.
Over 13 seasons with the Phillies, Utley became the greatest second baseman in the history of the franchise. The six-time NL All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner received National League Most Valuable Player votes on five occasions. He will surely be inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame sometime in the next few years.
Madson was with the Phillies for the first nine of the 13 big-league seasons thus far in his career. He tossed 630 innings for the club, the vast majority of those as a key arm out of the bullpen.
Madson appeared on the mound in 491 games with the Phillies, with 478 of those coming in relief. He made another 33 relief appearances for the Phillies in the postseason from 2008-11. In the championship-clinching victory over the Rays he was touched for a game-tying home run off the bat of Rocco Baldelli in the top of the 7th inning.
A truly remarkable comeback story, Madson was out of baseball with various injuries for three full seasons. He returned in 2015 in surprisingly dominant form, becoming a vital member of the Kansas City Royals bullpen and winning a second World Series ring.

Utley will turn 40-years-old a week before Christmas and has announced that this will be his final season as an active player in Major League Baseball. Madson has made no formal announcement. But his continuing effectiveness should allow him to catch on with a team for the 2019 season, should he so desire.
Time stands still for no one, and that includes our sports heroes. Utley – warmly remembered by Phillies fans as “The Man” for his heroics here – will be rooting on his current Dodgers teammates as the events of the 2018 World Series unfold without his direct participation.
No matter what happens as this October battle winds the 2018 season to an end, the two will always be cherished and feted in Philadelphia for their contributions to the Phillies teams of the 2000’s.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Ryan Madson on, Chase Utley off Dodgers 2018 World Series roster

And then there were four

Jayson Werth raises 2008 World Series trophy

On Wednesday night, October 29, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays took to the field to resume Game Five of the World Series.

The Phillies had fought their way to a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic, and needed just one more victory to secure only the second world championship in franchise history.

Game Five had originally begun two nights earlier, on Monday, October 27. However, rain began to fall early on that night, and grew to torrential proportions by the middle innings.

After the Rays tied the game up at 2-2 in the top of the 6th inning, Major League Baseball finally stepped in, and the game was suspended.

After two days of rains, the two clubs finally re-took the field in South Philadelphia. Geoff Jenkins got the home crowd stoked immediately, bombing a double to center field off of Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Jimmy Rollins then bunted him over to third base.

With the go-ahead run just 90 feet away from home plate, Jayson Werth stepped into the box. On a 2-2 pitch, the Phillies right fielder looped a base hit into center field, scoring Jenkins to put the Phils back on top 3-2.

The two clubs would trade runs in the final frames, and the Phillies would memorably mob closer Brad Lidge on the mound after the final out.

Just yesterday, while playing in the minor leagues of the Washington Nationals organization, Werth revealed that he was retiring from professional baseball.

This brings to the end a career that saw him appear with the Toronto Blue Jays (2002-03), Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-05), Phillies (2007-10) and the Nationals (2011-17) over parts of 15 seasons.

During his four seasons with the Phillies, Werth produced a strong .282/.380/.506 slash line. He slammed 95 homers, drove in 300 runs, scored 320 times, and stole 60 bases.

Compare those numbers to those produced by Jim Thome in his four seasons here in Philadelphia, and you will find that Werth is certainly worthy of consideration to be enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame at some point in the future.

However, he is going to have to wait a bit. Most of those 2008 World Series champions are now gone from the game. A number of them are going to be honored before Werth can be considered.

Left fielder Pat Burrell is already on the Wall of Fame. ‘Pat the Bat’ played his final season with the San Francisco Giants in 2011.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz last appeared in the big leagues with the Saint Louis Cardinals in 2010. He bounced around the minors, winter leagues, and independent leagues for a couple of years, and has not played at all since 2014.

The center fielder, Shane Victorino, won another World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ last played for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2015.

It was a mid-season 2016 career finale with the Chicago White Sox for Jimmy Rollins. The heart and soul of the Phillies for a decade and a half and the franchise’ all-time Hits leader, ‘JRoll’ could make an intriguing candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.

Ryan Howard never wore another uniform in a regular season MLB game other than that of the Philadelphia Phillies, finishing up his career here with the 2016 season.

He tried a comeback last year with both the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies, but ‘The Big Piece’ couldn’t get out of either minor league system. While not officially retired, he is not getting back to the big leagues.

Carlos Ruiz was with the Phillies into the 2016 season, during which he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. ‘Chooch’ played in 53 games last year with the Seattle Mariners, but at age 39 has been unable to catch (pun intended) on with any club here in the 2018 campaign. His career also appears to be over.

The key bench players, Jenkins, Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett, Matt Stairs, and Greg Dobbs are all long gone from the playing field. Dobbs was the last, playing with the Nationals and Miami Marlins during the 2014 campaign.

On the mound, the ‘Ancient Mariner’, local hero Jamie Moyer, finally aged out of the game after hanging around into his age 49 season with the Colorado Rockies in 2012.

Brett Myers had a few successful years with the Houston Astros. His career ended after four appearances with the Cleveland Indians in the 2014 season. He has now transitioned into a country music recording career.

A home run hero in that World Series, Joe Blanton was able to transition into a successful reliever for a few teams, including a pivotal role with an LA Dodgers team that reached the NLCS in 2016. He finished up with the Nats a year ago, and is now into wine production in northern California.

Two men pitched at the back end of the Phillies rotation that season, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton. Kendrick got back to the bigs last year with the Boston Red Sox, but has not been able to catch on anywhere this year. He appears done at just age 33. Eaton last pitched in the 2009 season with the Colorado Rockies.

Lidge stayed with the Phillies through the 2011 season, then had one more year with the Nationals in 2012. Chad Durbin and J.C. Ramirez of the ‘Bridge to Lidge’ bullpen finished up in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Durbin wrapped his career with 16 final ineffective innings with the Phillies.

Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre were two more key members of that bullpen. Each retired following the 2009 return to the World Series with the Phillies.

So if you are wondering if anyone is left, the answer would be that there are now just four active players in Major League Baseball who played with those 2008 World Series champion Phillies.

Cole Hamels is still with the Texas Rangers after being dealt for a big package of prospects in late July 2015. He is actually now once again considered a trade candidate, and at age 34 could even return to the Phillies.

A 25-year old at the time, J.A. Happ appeared in just eight games with those 2008 Phillies, making just four starts. He was dealt to the Houston Astros in 2010 as part of the Roy Oswalt trade, and has had a solid big league career. Happ is another valuable trade candidate now at age 35 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The best story of this dwindling group belongs to relief pitcher Ryan Madson. Now 37 years old, Madson was passed over by the Phillies when he became a free agent following the 2011 season.

Madson signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $6 million. He would never pitch in Cincinnati, suffering a torn ligament in his right elbow during spring training of 2012. Missing the entire season and most of 2013, he was unable to get back to the big leagues. When no one signed him for 2014, Madson retired.

But that was not the end of his story. After three seasons away from MLB due to that elbow injury, Madson decided to give it one more try. He was signed by the Kansas City Royals, and incredibly made the team. Not only that, he became one of the most effective relievers in baseball once again, helping the Royals to win the World Series in 2015.

Madson has continued his late-career renaissance, earning himself $20 million worth of contracts over the last three seasons. He continues to pitch out of the Washington Nationals bullpen, and Phillies fans will likely get a chance to see him this weekend.

That leaves one man to cover, and he is ‘The Man’, Chase Utley. Now aged 39, the gray-haired Utley is still plugging away with the Los Angeles Dodgers out in his native California.

Long past the all-star days when he was the game’s top second baseman, Chase provides a veteran presence off the bench in his fourth season for a Dodgers team that hopes to contend.

Jayson Werth is retiring, and then there were four. Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson. Who knows, we might even get to see one of them back in a Phillies uniform before they finally decide to hang it up for good. It won’t be long. Another two or three years, perhaps, and they will all be gone from the game for good.

But for Phillies fans, they will never be forgotten, and they will be feted at numerous reunions in the future. In fact, the first of those will officially take place on August 5 of this season. That night, the Phillies will honor the 10th anniversary with a formal reunion on Alumni weekend.

The odds just became greater that Werth will be able to join the others already scheduled to attend. But since it’s a Sunday, and all the MLB teams will be scheduled to play, you won’t see the other four. There own reunion is coming, certainly by the 20th anniversary in 2028.

NLDS Prediction: Washington Nationals over Chicago Cubs

Nationals fans believe that this will be their year – so do I

This isn’t necessarily a now-or-never situation for the Washington Nationals, as some pundits have claimed.

The Nats are likely to again be favorites to win the NL East crown in 2018, and will have the talent again to be a serious championship contender.

However, it is getting to be time for the Nationals to prove that they can actually win a postseason series, let alone make a deep October run.

This is the sixth consecutive season of contention in our nation’s capital. Washington captured the NL East crown in four of those six seasons, and finished second in the other two. This is their fourth shot at postseason play.

In their three previous October series, the Nationals dropped a hard-fought NLDS. In 2012 it was a 3-2 series defeat at the hands of the Saint Louis Cardinals.

The Nats won the opener of that series, and held a 7-5 lead with two outs in the top of the 9th in the decisive Game Five before a Cardinals rally killed their dreams.

In 2014, the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants took out the Nats in four games. Each of the three defeats came by a single run: 3-2 and 2-1 in the first two games, and then a 3-2 defeat in Game Four where the Giants clinching run scored via a wild pitch.

Last season, Washington was a clear favorite against the LA Dodgers. A 3-2 loss to Clayton Kershaw in the opener was nothing to be ashamed of, and the Nats bounced back to capture the next two games.

Then in Game Four, the Dodgers tied the series with a two-out, nobody on rally in the bottom of the 8th in which a Chase Utley RBI single drove in the winning run of a 6-5 game.

In Game Five, Max Scherzer was tossing a gem, shutting out the Dodgers for six innings. But in the 7th, LA erupted for four runs, ultimately holding on for a 4-3 victory that again eliminated the Nationals.

This history matters, because if the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs get out to a series lead, or even take it to a decisive game, that history of playoff losing could work on the Nationals collective heads.

The two teams battled fairly even in the regular season, with the Nats capturing four of the seven games. In late June, they split a four-game set at Nationals Park. Then in early August, Washington took two of three at Wrigley Field.

This series should prove to be a fantastic managerial matchup between two of the game’s best and most experienced field generals.

Washington skipper Dusty Baker has guided the Nationals to the NL East title in each of his first two seasons with the club. Baker was a 2x NL All-Star and Silver Slugger winner during a 19-year playing career that stretched all the way back to 1968. He was a key player on the 1981 Dodgers team that won the World Series.

As a manager, Baker has guided four different teams over a total of 22 seasons. He has a cumulative 1,863-1,636 regular season record, won division titles with each of his four teams, and took the 2002 San Francisco Giants to the World Series.

The Cubs have gone 292-193 in three seasons under Joe Maddon, who skippered them to the franchise’ first World Series championship since 1908 a year ago.

Maddon previously won a pair of division crowns and an AL Pennant with the Tampa Bay Rays over nine seasons. He was also a member of Mike Scioscia’s staff when the Anaheim Angels beat Baker’s Giants in that 2002 Fall Classic.

Baker will send 3x NL All-Star Stephen Strasburg to the hill in Friday’s opener at Nationals Park, but has yet to announce his rotation beyond the opener. The likelihood is that it will be Scherzer and lefty Gio Gonzalez in some order for Game Two in Washington, and then Game Three in Chicago.

Maddon has already announced Kyle Hendricks for the opener, followed by Jon Lester in Game Two, and then trade deadline acquisition Jose Quintana in Game Three.

These are two star-studded lineups. The Nationals key could be the readiness of right fielder Bryce Harper, one of the most dynamic players in the game today. A nearly devastating leg injury limited the soon-to-be 25-year old to just 111 games. He was able to return for the final five games, and he should be ready to go.

Also featured in the Nationals lineup is second baseman Daniel Murphy, a 3x NL All-Star, the 2016 NL MVP runner-up, and the 2015 NLCS MVP while with the New York Mets.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon is going to receive NL MVP votes this time around. Shortstop Trea Turner is one of the game’s biggest stolen base threats. Veterans Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Matt Wieters bring not just their talents, but also a wealth of big game experience.

The champion Cubs come with perhaps the deepest collection of talented youngsters in the game today in third baseman Kris Bryant (25), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (28), catcher Willson Contreras (25), left fielder Kyle Schwarber (24), right fielder Jason Heyward (28), center fielder Albert Almora (23) and a pair of super utility guys in Javier Baez (24) and 23-year old rookie Ian Happ.

The Cubs also have one of the best and most experienced and versatile players in this postseason in 36-year old Ben Zobrist, who was with Maddon back in the Tampa Bay days and played a key role on last year’s title team.

Right-handed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, perhaps the Cubs best, is battling a hamstring injury. He is expected to start Game Four. If he cannot go, Maddon may turn to lefty Mike Montgomery, depending on how much the veteran has been used out of the bullpen.

Out of the bullpens, both managers have an array of talented options. Maddon will turn to righties John Lackey, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, and closer Wade Davis. From the left side he will bring Montgomery, Justin Wilson, and Brian Duensing.

When Baker calls to the bullpen he will be looking for righties Ryan Madson, Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler, and possibly even usual starter Tanner Roark. From the southpaw side it will be Oliver Perez, Enny Romero, Sammy Solis, and closer Sean Doolittle.

This is a battle of the two teams that I see as the National League’s best. The winner of this series should be favored in the NLCS, and should they advance that far, will pose a major challenge to the American League champions in the World Series.

Much as with my prediction for the other NLDS, this is completely a gut call. Two evenly matched teams. Washington has home field advantage. I just think it’s their time. Don’t be surprised to see Harper take over this postseason, while Rendon shows his talent on a national stage. Nationals in a hard-fought five games.

Time is now for Nationals to deal for bullpen help

More than two months into the 2017 MLB regular season, the Washington Nationals are in great shape in the standings. The Nats lead the National League East Division by 8.5 games over their nearest rivals.
The Nationals would appear to be cruising towards a second consecutive postseason appearance. It would be the franchise’s fourth NL East crown, and thus their fourth trip to the playoffs in six years.
But after 36 years as the Montreal Expos and now a dozen full seasons in the U.S. capital city, the franchise has still never even played a single World Series game.
In fact, they have never played in the NLCS either. Washington has been eliminated in the NLDS in all three of the club’s appearances during this decade.
Though the current version of the Nationals appears to be running away with the division, there has been one area of the team that has been a cause of season long concern.
Due to a combination of inconsistency and injury, the Nats bullpen has been a mess. Dusty Baker has tried five different pitchers in the closer role at one time or another over the first 10 1/2 weeks.

NATIONALS BULLPEN AN ACHILLES HEEL

Here are the numbers on the 2017 Nationals primary relief pitchers through action on Wednesday.
Shawn Kelley: 3-2, four Saves, 6.88 ERA, 1.647 WHIP, 19/17 H:IP, 20/9 K:BB.
Blake Treinen: 0-1, three Saves, 6.51 ERA, 1.880 WHIP, 39/27.2 H:IP, 25/13 K:BB.
Koda Glover: 0-1, eight Saves, 5.12 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 20/19.1 H:IP, 17/4 K:BB, currently on DL.
Joe Blanton: 0-2, 8.36 ERA, 1.786 WHIP, 20/14 H:IP, 15/5 K:BB
Enny Romero: 2-2, one Save, 3.82 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 29/30.2 H:IP, 36/12 K:BB
Matt Albers: 2-1, two Saves, 2.10 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 16/25.2 H/IP, 30/6 K:BB
Albers, whose pure stuff is probably the least among those pitchers, was getting the best results. On Monday night, he surrendered a three-run homer against the Braves, blowing a Save and taking the loss.
Albers, Romero, Kelley, Glover and Jacob Turner have each blown a pair of Save opportunities. Treinen has blown one as well.

DEALS HOLD BEST POSSIBLE SOLUTION

In an article at Fanrag Sports today, Jon Heyman quoted an unnamed Nationals official: “We don’t need just one big reliever, we need two.”
Heyman feels, and I concur, that the best possible trade target right now would be Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson. Heyman reports that the two teams were previously close on a deal that would send 2016 draftee Jesus Luzardo to the Chisox as part of a Robertson deal.
Chicago is in rebuilding mode, and has put together one of the top prospect groups in the game. Luzardo is a legitimate long-term pitcher for the White Sox to add to their mix.
If the Nationals can find a way to swing such a deal, they may find the perfect setup man out west. Maybe two men. The Oakland Athletics have a pair of 36-year old relievers in Santiago Casilla and Ryan Madson who could probably be had in the right deal.
Adding experienced, successful pitchers of that caliber to the bullpen would make a dramatic difference. That type of increase in the back-end of the bullpen would make Washington a legitimate World Series contender.
If general manager Mike Rizzo fails to make a couple of moves to shore up this lone Nationals weakness, he risks not only another October failure, but possibly his own job.