Added: Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Shawn Kelly
Lost: Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Denard Span, Doug Fister
Arguably their biggest offseason move was moving on from Matt Williams and hiring Dusty Baker as their manager. The problem is that both seem to have the same old school philosophy when it comes to game management. Williams however lost his clubhouse last year, and seemed to have problems working with star Bryce Harper. How much better Baker is on a personal level will be huge, because on paper this team isn’t as good as the team that choked away a playoff spot last year. Losing Zimmerman is Fister is tough, but the Nats do have some young names with potential to fill the void at the bottom of the rotation.
Projected Playoff Lineup
- Trea Turner
- Anthony Rendon
- Bryce Harper
- Ryan Zimmerman
- Daniel Murphy
- Jayson Werth
- Wilson Ramos
- Michael Taylor/Ben Revere
Trea Turner will more than likely start the season in AAA, but it is safe to say that by the end of the year, hopefully earlier than later, he will take over the job from the disappointing Danny Espinosa. Michael Taylor, coming off of his rookie season will platoon in the outfield and probably will split some time at leadoff in waiting for Turner. Taylor has speed, but only had a .282 OBP in 511 plate appearances in his rookie campaign. He should obviously improve at age 24, but it is just another reason to bring Turner up in the hopes that one of them can lead off soon. Behind him will be one of the better duos in the league with Rendon and Harper. With these two alone you are competing with the best on offense and defense and Harper the reigning MVP should be in for more of the same. Zimmerman has major concerns after now at 31, and only playing in 95 games last year. However, a lot of that had to do with his shoulder, and becoming a full time first baseman this year should bring promise that he can play. Werth being another name with durability concerns, making it good that both Revere and Taylor will be splitting outfield duties and can fill in for Werth. The depth is a decent problem here, but it mainly comes due to the questions of Taylor and Turner and their progression. If these two can be instilled in the lineup, it is one of the better, deeper teams in the league. If these two don’t take a step, they are scrapping for everyday starters.
The major question in the rotation will be whether or not Strasburg will bounce back. Strasburg threw his least amount of innings, and posted his highest ERA since he entered the league in 2012. His peripherals are still pretty strong, but now without Zimmerman it is much more imperative that he holds down the spot as the second pitcher. He was once known as one of highest rated prospects, but he has yet to live up to that hype and be a top tier pitcher. It is starting to seem like if 2016 isn’t his year, he may just never have that ace quality. Behind him, Joe Ross is a nice candidate to have a good year in what will be his first year on the opening day roster. Down the line, a name to watch this year will be Lucas Giolito. Giolito is one of the top prospects in the game, and with five somewhat established figures ahead of him he certainly won’t be up until deep in the summer. That said injuries are always a factor, so when he comes up and how he performs in that role could be a huge factor as to whether or not this team is making noise late.
The Nats traded away Drew Storen essentially assuring that Jonathan Papelbon will be the closer. There is a good chance this makes the Nats clubhouse decently volatile, but Papelbon does have history as a productive closer. The Shawn Kelly signing would put him in line to set up for Papelbon, but the rest of the bullpen has some questions. Most of the names in the pen are good long term type relievers, and while they are collectively not a terrible pen, they will be looking for a situational pitching throughout the year.
At the end of the day the Nats should at the least be competitive. They will be looking for key contributions from guys like Taylor, Turner, and Ross that could put them over the top. While it isn’t as complete or deep of a roster as the Mets, they should be the two at the top of the division competing throughout the year, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them back in the driver seat, with a booming young core come this fall.
Second in NL East
Second Wild Card