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Mark DeRosa reminisces on 2012 Nationals, thinks they could have won the World Series

Mark DeRosa reminisces on 2012 Nationals, thinks they could have won the World Series

Former Washington utility player Mark DeRosa believes the 2012 Nationals could have won the World Series if they had stuck with the status quo and kept Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. 

DeRosa, who currently works as an analyst for MLB Network and co-host of MLB Central, joined Tim Shovers and Chase Hughes on the latest edition of the Nationals Talk podcast, where he looked back on the historic 2012 Washington team and season.

LISTEN BELOW TO THE INTERVIEW ON THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST:

During spring training, DeRosa knew the Nationals were going to be special that year. He saw how talented the roster was after the first few practices when he saw the likes of Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, a just-drafted Anthony Rendon and a rookie Bryce Harper. Between the veteran leaders and the youngsters, DeRosa knew the team Mike Rizzo crafted could be something special. 

"The way Mike Rizzo built that roster," DeRosa said, "We were going to be able to sustain, because...some of the [older] guys were going to be able to kind of embrace the younger guys and tell them how good they were and...hopefully that would lead them to some more confidence." 

Their hot start to the season also helped boost the Nationals' confidence that year and allowed young players and veterans alike to relax. They won 14 of their first 18 games to start the 2012 season and finished with a 98-64 record.

So, when Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals came around, the sting from that loss hurt all the more. Even for DeRosa, who described his role on the team as something akin to a "glorified bench coach," the loss was the worst and most devastating of his 16 years in the majors. 

DeRosa was adamant that there wasn't a cloud hanging over the team because they pulled Strasburg. That plan had been in action since Spring Training, and the team and organization were going to stick to it no matter what. 

"I do think we win the World Series with [Strasburg] in the starting rotation," DeRosa said. "He was the best pitcher in the National League that year in my opinion. He was dominant. He was untouchable. When you take that away from a team going into the postseason, it can't help but hurt a little bit."

DeRosa also had some key words about Harper, who he felt lucky to have gotten to know was a rookie. 

"There wasn't a point in time during the 2012 season of me being around [Harper] that he ever acted like he deserved any different treatment from anyone on that roster," DeRosa said.

Oh, and about Werth's Game 4 walk-off: it meant as much to the team as it did to the fans, if not more.

"For [Werth] to have that moment...it justified a lot of things," DeRosa said. "It was his moment to have." 

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Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

WASHINGTON -- The governor is off now, no longer are the Nationals dealing with nip-and-tuck, cross-your-fingers baseball. They have turned into the heavy. 

A gleeful Monday evening at Nationals Park finished with a 3-0 National League Championship Series lead. The first NLCS home game in team history accelerated from tight to comfortable while Stephen Strasburg cruised along. The crux of the series has become clear in the simplest of terms: St. Louis can’t hit what the Washington starters are throwing. Patrick Corbin will try to end it Tuesday night. If he does, the once 19-31 Nationals will start the World Series Oct. 22 in either Houston or New York. 

Monday’s 8-1 pummeling of St. Louis provides Washington with daunting leverage. Teams leading the best-of-seven NLCS 3-0 have won the series 100 percent of time. The Nationals exist as a massive favorite to advance and likely to do so at home. Opposing Corbin on Tuesday is Dakota Hudson, a 24-year-old who led the league in walks and lasted just 4 ⅔ innings against Atlanta in the NLDS.

Again pulling the weight was a Nationals starting pitcher. Strasburg managed a strange seventh-inning situation to finish with just one unearned run allowed. Washington starters have allowed zero earned runs in 21 ⅔ innings this series. Little is left to be said about their dominance of a middling St. Louis lineup rendered fully inept. 

The bottom of the third inning was part anomaly, part predictable. St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty moved through the first two innings with little to shudder about. Victor Robles, back in the lineup for the first time in 10 days, began the third with a single. Strasburg bunted him to second. Adam Eaton singled with two outs to drive in Robles. Anthony Rendon’s rapidly sinking fly ball to left rattled out of Marcell Ozuna’s glove while he slid. Eaton scored. Juan Soto walked. Howie Kendrick arrived at a 2-1 count versus the teetering Flaherty. His double into the gap scored two more, promoting him to shark clap toward the dugout and high-on-life Gerardo Parra to grab and tap a mini stuffed shark hanging from the mesh in front of the dugout. 

Flaherty had not allowed four or more runs in an inning since June 25; 20 starts ago. He allowed four earned runs total in six September starts. Flaherty threw one more inning Monday before giving way to the bullpen. He lasted four innings, a deflating evening for the Cardinals’ top pitcher in a game they had to win. 

Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman delivered back-to-back doubles in the fifth to bump the lead to 6-0. Robles homered in the sixth to go up 7-0. Zimmerman's single drove Kendrick across the plate in the eighth. In the meantime, Strasburg racked up strikeouts with changeups and curveballs before a splash of trouble in the seventh. 

Back-to-back singles started the inning. Paul DeJong’s single to left field seemed harmless enough until Juan Soto lost his feet when loading to throw. Soto ended up on his backside, the ball eventually coming into the infield to no one in particular. A run scored. Davey Martinez and trainer Paul Lessard approached the mound before Strasburg shooed them away with a death stare and handful of words. 

Strasburg closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts -- his 11th and 12th of the evening -- to further suppress the Cardinals lineup. How bad has it been for St. Louis through three games? A starter who finished with seven hits allowed and an unearned run across seven innings is the laggard.

Four opportunities to crack the World Series now exist. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon -- if necessary -- at home, then two during the weekend back in St. Louis, if it somehow comes to that. Monday’s luxury ride put them in position. Tuesday’s nine innings could send them over the hump.

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Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Based on how the 2019 season has gone for the Washington Nationals, and the impact 'Baby Shark' has had on it, would you really expect the rallying call to dissapear in the biggest game yet?

Of course not.

So, it's no surprise that during Game 3 of the NLCS, it was on full display.

First, DC Washington, who sang the National Anthem on Monday, concluded his performance by sneaking in a little chomp at the end.

But, that wouldn't be the last we saw of 'Baby Shark'. It appears that Gerardo Parra, the man who started all the hysteria, has a little homage to the song and chant in the dugout.

With Washington taking an early lead in Game 3 and up 2-0 in the series, don't expect 'Baby Shark' to go anywhere anytime soon.

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