Nationals manager Dave Martinez went from hot seat in May to World Series in October
On May 17, the Nationals lost 14-6 to the Cubs behind three Kris Bryant homers. They won the next day, but the following game on Sunday night, they lost again, kickstarting a five-game losing streak that would run their record to 19-31.
Would heads roll? Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist had already been fired. As for manager Dave Martinez, this season saw its fair share of speculation and reporting. He was ranked Martinez was second in our early-season hot seat rankings.
It's an upset that he wasn't fired. And yet, less than five months after the most heavy speculation, he's won a pennant -- something that hasn't happened in D.C. since the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.
After that aforementioned five-game losing streak, the Nationals became one of the best teams in baseball. They tied the Dodgers for the best NL record after that date at 74-38. Their plus-211 run differential was the best in baseball and was that of a 110-win team, via their Pythagorean win percentage. They took down the 106-win Dodgers in the NLDS and now swept the Cardinals in the NLCS.
Quite simply, everything since Martinez was set to be fired says the Nationals are an utter juggernaut. Perhaps it's because they were forced into this.
"This has been something that's been building since the end of May," Martinez said after their . "I mean, we had our backs against the wall, and they stuck with it, and they believed in each other, and they believed that they were going to bounce back and this thing was going to turn around.
"I've said it before, we've been playing playoff games since then. We had to play really good to come back and do the things we've done, and now, in September, they believed that they can do this, and they're going out there, and they're not taking anything for granted, and they're playing really hard, and they're playing to win one game every day. The big message, I say it every day, is to go 1-0 every day, and they believe that."
They've done that and then some.
Martinez has been masterful in the postseason, too. The way he's used Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer in relief. Patrick Corbin let him down in NLDS Game 3, but I would submit it was the right call and Corbin was nails when called upon in relief in NLDS Game 5 and NLCS Game 2.
In NLDS Game 4, many other managers would've pulled Max Scherzer after he loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Martinez stuck by him. He would get a strikeout and ground out to end the inning.
In NLCS Game 4 with the Cardinals desperately trying to charge back, he was flawless in piecing together the late innings despite his two big-gun relievers likely being pretty fatigued from their use this postseason.
As noted, not everything has been perfect on a results basis, but I firmly believe Martinez has been near perfect in terms of the process of decision-making in the Nationals dugout throughout the postseason. It started with Strasburg's brilliance in relief in the Wild Card Game and it ran through Martinez letting Strasburg pitch through a seventh-inning jam and then excellent execution in the face of pressure on Tuesday night.
Now, Nationals manager Dave Martinez is going to the World Series.
All this from a guy who was looking DOA in late May. What a turnaround.
Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio
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