For basically the entire season, the dregs of Major League Baseball have been the Washington Nationals, the San Diego Padres, and the Seattle Mariners. These three teams have been losing consistently since April, falling out of contention early and locking up spots in the cellar by mid-summer. All three have been nearly equally inept as well, engaging in a chase of sorts for the first overall selection in next year’s draft, widely referred to as the Strasburg Sweepstakes, named after the University of San Diego right-hander of the same name who is the early leader to go number one next summer.
However, over the last week, something strange has happened – all three teams have caught fire and attempted to exit the race for worst.
Last Monday, the Padres welcomed the first place Diamondbacks and promptly swept them, winning 4-2, 9-2, and 5-4. Colorado came into town for a weekend series and won the first game on Friday night 9-4, but then lost by the same score on Saturday and fell 2-1 yesterday. Over the last week, the Padres have won five of their six contests, only the third time this season they’ve pulled that off.
Not to be outdone, the Mariners managed to take two of three from the first place Twins in Seattle to start the week, then flew to Cleveland and swept the red hot Indians, who had won 10 games in a row. When combined with a series win against the A’s before Minnesota came to town, the Mariners have now won seven of their last nine games.
And finally, the Nationals, the clear favorite to finish with baseball’s worst record, and the most consistently horrible team in baseball this year. At least, until last week. On Tuesday, the Dodgers rolled into the nations capitol fighting for their playoff lives and left without a win. Atlanta came in for a weekend series and didn’t fare any better, as Washington’s putrid offense exploded for 24 runs in the three game series. When combined with the 11 run surge in the finale against LA, Washington has now racked up 35 runs in their last four games – they scored 26 runs during a 12 game losing steak just a few weeks ago.
Combined, the terrible trio is 16-2 in their last 18 games. Apparently, the only team that wants Strasburg is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have now lost 10 in a row in a desperate attempt to get into the mix. Of course, with Scott Boras expected to advise Strasburg, they might not want the #1 pick either.