National Pastime: Nationals Will Win NL East
- Washington Nationals
Last year’s NL East Champs have a lot going for them, but perhaps the best thing (aside from depth and talent) is youth. They were not smitten by the injury bug much last year, largely because they are young- nearly all under team control for several years- and few have a history of injury. Strasburg should be in good shape to go 200 innings, and Zimmerman (who had a few hiccups at 3rd last year) had a productive and injury-free spring.
So what could go wrong?
Danny Espinosa could succumb to a shoulder injury or lack of patience at the plate. Jordan Zimmermann could parlay a bad spring into a bad season- he did seem to wear down a bit toward the end of last year. Denard Span could prove a bad fit in DC. Bryce Harper could suffer a Sophomore slump.
These things could happen to any team, and are hard to predict. Ultimately, this is the deepest, most talented team in the majors. That will be good enough to cash in a pennant in DC.
Denard Span CF
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper LF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Danny Espinosa 2B
Kurt Suzuki C
This is a group that has the potential, if healthy, to be explosive. They were 5th in the NL in Runs scored last year, not on the strength of batting average (only .261 as a team) but on the strength of power and timely hitting. After an abysmal April last year, the bats woke up when several players- including Zim and Morse- came back from injury. There are no real weaknesses in the lineup this year, it is deep, fast, strong and hits for power. If healthy, they are good. And if not, they have a great bench with Chad Tracy and Steve Lombardozzi filling in the holes. They strike out a bit more than you would like and don’t walk as much, but still good.
Rafael Soriano (Closer)
This is the strength of the team. They were 1st in runs allowed last year, and were good all year long. The starting lineup is good, but watch Dan Haren in the 5th spot. His production has not been great of late and he had a bad spring. The bullpen should continue to be a real strength. Live arm after live arm will be rolled out to shut down the late innings. The lack of a lefty in the pen and lack of organizational depth are the biggest issues. But these are issues for just about every team.