Nationals fans prepare for another shot at a World Series title

Jimmy Sanderson, Sports Editor

For the fourth time in team history, the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East division, sending them back into the postseason and sparking excitement in most Nationals fans.

However, the first three times the Nationals have made the playoffs, they have lost their opening series, leaving a chunk of their supporters skeptical about this year’s playoff run.

How can you blame the fan base for having doubts? Every single time the Nationals have made the playoffs, the same exact thing happens.

In 2012, the Nationals posted the best regular season record across the whole league, only to lose in the divisional round to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

Two seasons later, they achieved the best record in their conference, then went on to lose in the divisional round against the San Francisco Giants. In this pitiful attempt to advance to the second round, the Giants only needed four games to dispose of the Nationals in their path to winning the World Series.

Rewind to last year, the Nationals latched on to the two-seed in their conference, then proceeded to get eliminated in five games in the divisional series (again) at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What has been the problem? Is it the same problem every year? Is it management? Injuries? Just flat out unlucky? Excuses can be made every year, but how many times does this cycle of disappointment have to repeat before fans start losing hope?

Although the Nationals have fallen short of expectations repeatedly, fans are not giving up on the dream of a title run. The team just has too much upside to not have faith.

A chunk of the Nationals starters battled injuries this year, but the team just kept winning, because their bench players performed admirably well.

“I think they definitely have a good chance this year,” senior and long-time Nationals supporter Kevin Choo said. “This year is different, and I’m honestly more hopeful than last year because of how deep our bench is compared to other years. The way they stepped up during the season when some of our starters got injured was really impressive.”

However, with the success their bench had this year, fans are even more excited for the postseason, because all of the starters should be healthy by the first week of October.

“This is the strongest team I’ve ever seen in Washington, and I’ve been a fan since the 2005 inaugural season” senior Jack Hughes said. “The team is all around working well, and the pitchers could not be performing at a higher level. I am for sure buying in on the Nats this year.”

The Nationals do have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, led by a three-headed monster starring Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. The three pitchers are in the top five of starting pitchers in the MLB in ERA, all currently posting sub 2.70 ERAs.

It makes sense for fans to believe that this year is their year. Star power on both sides of the ball, a solid bullpen, and experienced management is the perfect recipe for a World Series victory.

Even though this team has all the upside you need to win a ring, there is still one thing haunting them, and its history.

“This year isn’t different,” senior Mitchell Lough said. “Nothing is different. The pitching staff is still the best on paper, and their lineup is still the best on paper, just like every single year. If the past three playoff runs weren’t successful, how is this different?”

One thing for sure is that the Nationals performance in the postseason will answer a ton of questions. Statistically, the Nationals should compete to win the championship, but it all it takes is one bad game to crush their dreams of achieving the ultimate goal.