Starter Stephen Strasburg was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 World Series, announced shortly after the team clinched its first championship in franchise history on Wednesday night in Houston.
Strasburg played a crucial role, delivering six strong innings to outduel Justin Verlander in Game 2. He came back and pitched into the ninth inning to best Verlander again in Game 6, keeping the Nationals’ World Series hopes alive to force a Game 7. Strasburg became the first pitcher to reach the ninth inning in a World Series start since Matt Harvey in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series against the Royals.
It’s been a long time coming for Strasburg, He was famously shut down before the 2012 postseason, his first full season in the majors, which caused a lot of controversy. Since then, however, Strasburg has established himself as one of the very best starters in baseball and had developed a reputation as a postseason stalwart. After his Game 6 performance, he now holds a career 1.46 ERA with 71 strikeouts and eight walks across 55 1/3 career innings in the playoffs.
Strasburg must now decide if he wants to stick with the Nationals after helping them win it all, or if he wants to opt out of his contract to pursue more options as a free agent. He inked a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with the Nationals in May 2016, but it included language that allows him to opt out after the 2019 and 2020 seasons. There is no doubt that his stock has risen, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him opt out.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.