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3 Players the Washington Nationals Need to Step up to in Order to Win the World Series

Washington

The Washington Nationals are in uncharted waters having never been to the World Series before. In fact, the last time a Washington team was in the World Series was 1933 when the Washington Senators made it. Now 86 years, and four playoff meltdowns later, Washington is four wins away from their first-ever championship. The Nationals have been receiving plenty of consistent support from the starting rotation, as well as Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. With either Houston or Ney York looming as their upcoming opponent, Washington will need these three players to step up so they can win their first-ever World Series.

Tanner Rainey

Washington
Image courtesy of SFGate

The 26-year-old is the most trusted reliever on the Nationals not named Sean Doolittle or Daniel Hudson. Rainey has slowly started to prove himself after his successful NLCS performance.

In the regular season, Rainey went 2-3 with a 3.91 ERA, 74 strikeouts in 48 and 1/3 innings. Rainey suffers from some control issues as he has high walk rates, but he counters with a high strikeout rate. This year Rainey had a K/9 rate of 13.18 and a K/BB rate of 1.62.

In game 1 of the NLDS, Rainey came in and gave up two runs. Since then, he has pitched three and 2/3 innings, allowing zero runs, one hit, no walks and has struck out three. Rainey may be leaned on more in the World Series and will have to prove to manager Dave Martinez that he can be trusted.

Rainey throws hard, as his fastball topped out at 101 in the NLCS. He is known for his fastball, so when he switches to his breaking stuff, it tends to catch hitters of guard. Rainey will need to mix up his pitches to keep either the Yankee or Astros batters guessing.

If Washington’s starters have to leave an inning early, more than not Rainey will be the first to come in. He will need continue his NLCS success in order to bridge the gap to the next inning. If Rainey hits his spots and avoids walking batters, he should be able to win his matchups.

Kurt Suzuki

Washington
Image courtesy of The Washington Post.

Suzuki hit .264 with 17 home runs and had an OPS of .810 in the regular season. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to carry his offensive production over to the playoffs as he only has one hit in 20 at-bats.

Suzuki is the main catcher for Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Stephen Strasburg so it would be preferable that he remain in the lineup. But, if he continues to flounder at the plate, Yan Gomes is ready and waiting. Suzuki is an x-factor because if he can start producing, then he will raise Washington’s offense to another level. The team needs more production from the bottom of the lineup and Suzuki must step up.

Howie Kendrick

Washington
Oct 9, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Howie Kendrick (47) reacts after a grand slam during the 10th inning in game five of the 2019 NLDS playoff baseball series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Image courtesy of CBS Sports.

Kendrick came through with one of the biggest hits in Washington Nationals history when he hit a grand slam in the tenth inning of game 5 in the NLDS. He continued to produce as he ended up winning NLCS MVP. Now why is Kendrick on this list if he won NLCS MVP?

His defense.  Despite his production at the plate, Kendrick has been a liability in the field. In the regular season according to ESPN, Kendrick committed two errors. In eight playoff games, Kendrick already has three errors, more than he had all season. So far the team has been able to limit the damage caused by Kendricks errors, but sooner or later it will cost them. It is essential for Kendrick to clean up his defense if the team hopes to win their first even World Series.

 

Feature Image from Las Vegas Review-Journal

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