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Cardinals pull Dakota Hudson after just 15 pitches in first inning

Cardinals pull Dakota Hudson after just 15 pitches in first inning

The Nationals are on fire. Eight Nationals batters put up seven runs and only recorded one out — which was a sacrifice fly that scored a run — before the Cardinals pulled starter Dakota Hudson and turned to veteran Adam Wainwright.

Hudson's start is the shortest in Cardinals' postseason history.

Hudson's seven earned runs are tied for the most by a pitcher in a start that was 1/3 of an inning or shorter. He's tied with Mike Foltynewicz, the Braves' starter who the Cardinals knocked out to get to the NLCS.

There's probably not much he could have done against these Nationals' bats, though.

Oh, and Patrick Corbin had five strikeouts on 23 pitches through two innings. The Nationals won, 7-4, to punch their ticket to the World Series.

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Nationals reportedly one of four teams interested in free agent 3B Josh Donaldson

Nationals reportedly one of four teams interested in free agent 3B Josh Donaldson

On the heels of a historic run to their first World Series championship, the Washington Nationals will remain at the center of the baseball universe with Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon hitting free agency. 

Rendon figures to be the top position player available, and if he doesn't return to DC, it appears the Nationals already have their eyes on a potential replacement. 

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Nats are one of four teams showing the most interest in former AL MVP Josh Donaldson along with the Phillies, Braves and Rangers.

Rendon, Donaldson, Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier highlight a deep free-agent class at the hot corner, and Feinsand adds that teams who miss out on Rendon or don't want to wait for him to make his decision can turn to Donaldson. 

Donaldson is coming off a one-season stint with the Braves where he posted a .259/.379/.521 slash line to go with 37 home runs and 94 RBI. Entering his age-34 season, Donaldson isn't quite playing at the MVP-level he did with the Blue Jays, but it's clear he can still produce.

If the Nationals aren't comfortable with committing long-term money but still want some production and a veteran presence at third base, Donaldson could be the perfect fit. 

The Braves signed Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract last November, so there's a decent chance he'll make a decision sooner rather than later. 

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Nationals Talk Podcast debates relevance of the Manager of the Year award

Nationals Talk Podcast debates relevance of the Manager of the Year award

Regardless of who ends up winning the National League Manager of the Year award -- the finalists are Craig Counsell, Mike Shildt, and Brian Snitker -- Nationals fans will make the case their fearless leader was snubbed.

Davey Martinez enjoyed an impressive season at the helm of the Nats, obviously culminating with the franchise’s first-ever World Series. Even prior to their charmed postseason run, however, Martinez had a strong case to be considered one of the favorites for that award. 

We even noted in our awards predictions after the season that “you can't take into consideration his performance in October, but simply getting the Nationals to the postseason is a job very well done.”

Counsell likely earned consideration for guiding the Brewers to the postseason after losing MVP-candidate Christian Yelich. Snitker helped the Braves cruise to an NL East division title despite modest preseason expectations, and Shildt oversaw a dominant second-half performance from his Cardinals team.

The problem is the lack of clarity surrounding the Manager of the Year award, both in terms of what qualities should define a winner and in how much of an impact each manager can realistically have.

This problem was highlighted by Todd Dybas in the latest episode of the Nationals Talk Podcast.

“Yeah its stupid. That’s the number one reason I’m not a fan, it shouldn’t exist,” Dybas began. “There’s no way to come to a way quantifiable solution or conclusion. There's just no way to determine this. It’s silly, no manager is going to be a good manager if you give them the Baltimore Orioles roster. So, the end.”

It wasn’t the end for Dybas, who continued on to explain the differences between Manager of the Year and other awards, like Most Valuable Player.

“I mean it’s just silly, you know? And I feel distinctly different about MVP,” he continued. “Once, a few years back when it was Joey Votto or Giancarlo Stanton and the Reds weren’t very good, I still voted for Votto because I felt like what he did had the highest value. I didn’t care that the Reds weren’t very good. He can’t control that the pitching staff stinks, so I wasn’t going to penalize him for that. In this case, the manager is the manager, he doesn’t pay or not pay the roster. If you’re tanking, does it mean the manager is bad? Not necessarily. If you have a $280 million payroll and you win the World Series, does it mean the manager is the best manager in the league? Not necessarily. So to me it’s just silly. I don’t know why it still exists. Hopefully it goes away at some point soon.”

Dybas did receive some pushback from his co-hosts. Tim Shovers’ rebuttal was simple: “These awards are fun and fans like it.”

Nationals fans would probably enjoy them more if they got to see their team take home more hardware, though of course the World Series victory is far more meaningful than any award would be.

The final example given from Dybas was perhaps the most compelling case against the award.

“Matt Williams was manager of the year and then got fired,” he said succinctly. “So that to me tells you everything you need to know about this award and its actual validity. “

You can hear the full episode of the Nationals Talk Podcast below.

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