The Washington Nationals season ended when Bryce Harper went ‘balls out’ crashing into the outfield wall. He injured his knee and just about everything else. The injuries lingered and was never the same. He gained muscle this offseason and looks like he should go pee in a cup for someone. He’s bound to have a breakout year.
The Nationals missed the playoffs by a few games and they kept every key player. They didn’t go out and break the bank on free agents. The front office knows that they just had a down year and the current roster could compete for a World Series ring this season.
Can Stephen Strasburg’s new slider be the missing piece for a Cy Young award-winning campaign?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Washington Nationals.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 86-76
Key Additions: OF Nate McLouth, RP Jerry Blevins, C Jose Lobaton & 1B Kevin Frandsen
Key Losses: SP Dan Haren, 2B Stephen Lombardozzi, 3B Chad Tracey, RP Fernando Abad & RP Ian Krol
Interleague Schedule: AL West + Texas Rangers
Projected Starters: Wilson Ramos, Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Denard Span & Jayson Werth
Projected Starting Rotation: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister & Ross Detwiler
Closer: Rafael Soriano
Fantasy Sleeper: 2B Danny Espinosa – He lost the starting job last season to top prospect Anthony Rendon, who went on to have a nice rookie year. It’s not inconceivable that Espinosa will receive some at-bats to either spell Rendon or if an injury occurs. He’s not rosterable at the moment, but be aware of him.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP A.J. Cole – Cole was a diamond in the rough when Washington drafted him 116th overall in the 2010 draft. He has been slow to progress, but since he came from high school, it’s not a red flag. He has spent an entire year at every level so far and will begin this season either in Double-A or Triple-A. He’s 6’5 and has power stuff. If he has a good Summer, he could earn some time in the Majors.
Team Analysis: Washington was the favorite in the NL East last season, but ended ten games back from the Atlanta Braves. They actually missed the playoffs altogether. Bryce Harper ran into a fence going full speed early in the season and was never the same. He added muscle this offseason and I expect a big year from him. Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth picked up the slack and I expect a lot of the same this season. The rest of the lineup is solid from beginning to end. I do have concerns at the end of the rotation and if Rafael Soriano can cut it as closer. Tyler Clippard is there in case Soriano struggles. I’m sure if Washington is in the race at the trade deadline, they will acquire a starter. I love Washington this season. I don’t see any other team in the East on their level. They should have this division won by August.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 89.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 93-69 (1st NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.