Max Scherzer Highlights Importance Of Veteran Leadership After Nationals Sweep Cardinals To Reach First World Series
Max Scherzer celebrates after the Washington Nationals win the 2019 National League pennant
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Despite trailing in the eighth inning of the National League Wild Card Game and facing vaunted Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Harder, the Washington Nationals rallied for a comeback win that has propelled them on a remarkable postseason run.

With the thrilling victory to build on, next for the Washington Nationals were the Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished atop the NL standings. Although the Dodgers won a franchise record 106 games, the Nationals’ starting pitchers were viewed as a threat to be a difference maker.

Sure enough, the Nationals won the franchise’s first postseason series by eliminating the Dodgers in five games in the NL Division Series. Washington then made quick work of the St. Louis Cardinals by completing a sweep in the NL Championship Series.

Max Scherzer pointed to the Nationals’ success as validation for veteran players in a sport where youth has become championed, via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez:

“It just seems like everybody wants younger and younger players, and everybody wants to forget about all the old guys,” Scherzer said. “We see it in free agency. We’re not dumb. The fact that we’re the oldest team and we went out and won the National League pennant just shows you that old guys — we bring a lot of value to clubhouses.”

Scherzer made similar remarks during the NLDS when discussing the home run Ryan Zimmerman hit that helped lift the Nationals to a Game 4 win. “We’re a bunch of viejos, we’re old guys,” Scherzer said. “Old guys can still do it.”

While Juan Soto is a key contributor for the Nationals, it was another veteran in Howie Kendrick who was named NLCS MVP. “It just makes it sweet because, as we’re getting older, the game keeps getting younger,” Kendrick said after Game 4.

“But to see a team like us continue to grind, and I think the mixture of people that we do have is what makes us so good. The chemistry that we do have, we understand each other.”

The Dodgers are similar to the Nationals in the sense their NLDS roster featured a veteran core, but it also included more rookies. Matt Beaty, Gavin Lux, Dustin May and Will Smith were first-year players the Dodgers relied on in the first round.

Meanwhile, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler and Corey Seager are still in the early stages of their respective careers.