Dan Haren: “If we got in, we’d be the team to beat”

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Nationals starter Dan Haren with your quote of the day, via Adam Kilgore:

Haren shut out the Diamondbacks tonight over seven innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five. He lowered his ERA to 4.67. As that ERA might indicate, Haren has been part of the Nationals’ problem this year. Before he went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation following his start on June 22, he had a 6.15 ERA.

The Nationals, however, surged at the end of August well into September, winning 23 of 30 games between August 20 and September 20. The hot streak revived their once-dead playoff hopes, but they ran out of time, having already lost too much ground to the Braves. Perhaps, had the Nationals — now 87-75 — pulled things together sooner, Haren might have been right, but it is hard to see the Nationals as presently-constructed being a post-season favorite on the National League side.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.