Good things come to those who wait! Writing regularly over at District on Deck about the Nationals and for Bat Flips and Nerds as well, Blake Finney is the perfect person to preview the season for Washington Nationals.
2017 was more of the same from the Washington Nationals. Winning the NL East for the fourth time in seven years, before suffering heartbreak in game five of the NLDS yet again. The chicago Cubs playing the spoiler this time around.
The offence was flat out dominant at times, with Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon continuing their dominant ways. A Ryan Zimmerman resurgence was also a big part of the Nationals success last season.
It’s no secret that people believe this is the final chance for this Washington Nationals team to make a deep run into the postseason. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez are all entering their contract years. There’s also the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies coming toward the end of their rebuild, ready to contend.
With what is probably the National League’s most complete hitting lineup, there’s are going to be plenty of blowouts, and slugging their way to victory too. Arguably the weakest hitter on the team, Matt Wieters is having a terrific spring. Finally, someone meant it when they said they were in “the best shape of their life”. Plus, with Adam Eaton back at full health, he will reunite with Trea Turner atop the order, causing havoc before the big-hitters come to the plate.
The rotation also has to be considered one of the top 5 in the National League too. There’s no better one-two punch than Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark are great when it comes to three and four starters. Hopefully, someone can step up and really take a hold of the final rotation spot.
Perhaps the most drastic change from a year ago, is the man calling the shots. Davey Martinez. And it will certainly be interesting to watch him develop as a manager, moving out of Joe Maddon’s shadow. Will he adopt some of the techniques he learned? Batting the pitcher eighth, unconventional leadoff hitters. Watch this space.
That hire was not one of a team who’s window is closing, a young up-and-comer to a three year deal. And there’s plenty of talent lurking in the minors. Victor Robles the most noteable. MLB.com’s sixth rated prospect coming into the year, has already flashed his elite glove and hitting prowess. And despite no obvious opening for him as of this moment. He could force the issue by raking in Syracuse, maybe getting a timeshare in centre-field with Michael A. Taylor.
I think the Nats land somewhere between 90/95 wins, cruising home in the NL East. So we’ll say 93-69. Nice. As for the playoffs, I say this every year, but this should finally be the year there’s a playoff series win in D.C. So I think they make it all the way to the World Series, before losing out to the Houston Astros, who I feel are an unstoppable juggernaut right now.
As much as I love Anthony Rendon, and realise how underappreciated he is, this has to go to Bryce Harper. When fully healthy, he’s a one-man wrecking crew, as shown by his unanimous MVP award back in 2015.
One to watch
Erick Fedde is a player to keep an eye on this year. The Nats fifth starter role is currently AJ Cole’s to lose, but if he fails to impress, look for the more talented Fedde to take it and run with it.