Nationals still in great position for 2015

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Maybe it’s still too soon to take solace, but the Nationals have more answers than questions headed into the winter.

Ex-closer Rafael Soriano excepted, the entire pitching staff is due back next year, including the NL-best rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark. The team might want to talk extension with Zimmermann and Fister, both of whom are free agents after next season, but they won’t have to go starter shopping. Soriano almost certainly will be allowed to walk and Ross Detwiler could also be traded or set free, but the Nationals will still be in good hands in the pen with Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Aaron Barrett and company.

It was the Nationals’ lineup that was the problem during the NLDS, but at least the team’s two most important players going forward — Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon — were the two who shined versus the Giants. The Nationals will probably say goodbye to Adam LaRoche, even though he was such an important part of this year’s lineup. Ryan Zimmerman needs to be a full-time first baseman because of his shoulder problems.

That leaves the only question mark as second base. One imagines the Nationals will try to re-sign Asdrubal Cabrera, who is a better option than any others out there in free agency. A trade is also a possibility. The Rays would probably be open to discussing Ben Zobrist, and the Nationals have some intriguing outfielders and hard-throwing right-hander Blake Treinan to use in talks.

But it should really be a rather quiet offseason for the Nationals overall. They’ll enter next spring as the favorites to win the NL East and probably as the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series, though we all know how well that can work out.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.