The Dodgers and Astros are through to the next round, thanks mostly to their bats. One and possibly two teams will join them later today. Here are the key storylines as the MLB playoffs move forward:
Next week, the Washington Nationals will begin a playoff series for the fourth time in six years. They have yet to win a series. With a healthy Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg—plus Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, and others—this year could be different. I wrote about it in my final regular season column for CBS Local. Starting next Thursday, I’ll be recapping the playoffs with a “Five Things You Missed” column.
When the Washington Nationals benched star pitcher Stephen Strasburg before the 2012 playoffs, general manager Mike Rizzo had this to say to any who opposed the decision: “We’ll be back and doing this a couple more times.” The implication was that the Nationals would get back to the playoffs and be in position for a World Series run in subsequent seasons. It was equal parts arrogant and naïve, both at the time and in retrospect, as the Nationals were bounced in the first round and did not make the playoffs the next year. They returned to the top of the National League East this season and will likely enter the playoffs, as they did in 2012, with the best record in the league. But the franchise can never atone for its mistakes two years ago.