Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Washington and the ex-Twins factor

The Washington Nationals made short work of the NLCS, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals so emphatically -- the Cardinals never had a lead in any game -- that they didn't have to pull their starters-as-relievers bullpen gimmick.

And so Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki and Fernando Rodney, three ex-Twins of varying tenure, are going to the World Series. As is Anibal Sanchez, who was in spring training with the Twins as a non-roster invitee in 2018 and was released when the Twins signed Lance Lynn. Since then Sanchez has pitched more than 300 innings with an ERA of  3.39. (He pitched more innings this year as the Nationals' fourth starter than Jake Odorizzi worked for the Twins.)

We can call Sanchez an ex-Twin, or decide that a few weeks in spring training doesn't count -- but he certainly qualifies as one who got away.

As for the others:

Dozier, now 32, had the lion's share of playing time at second base for the Nats and bopped 20 homers, but Howie Kendrick has pretty much taken over the position in the postseason. He was a bench piece for the Dodgers in last year's World Series also.

Suzuki, now 36, essentially splits the catching chores with former Indians backstop Yan Gomes. Gomes is the better receiver, Suzuki the better bat. I frankly thought Suzuki was pretty much done when his Twins tenure ended, but playing a little less than half-time has worked well for him the pst three seasons. Uniquely among the Nats' ex-Twins, he's signed through next season.

Rodney, now 42, is one of the bullpen pieces the Nationals seek diligently to avoid using in key moments. The Nats picked him up after the A's released him; he pitched in 38 games for Washington with an ERA of 4..05, which is considerably better than the 9.42 he had with Oakland.

Their roles are smaller than they were with the Twins, and their time remaining in the majors is dwindling. But if this is it for Dozier and Rodney, they're going out on a big platform.

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