The Washington Nationals season ended in the NLDS when they were defeated by San Francisco. The Giants was a team of destiny and went on to win the World Series. The early exit doesn’t look as bad when the team that defeated you goes on to win the title…but Washington really needs to get to a World Series while this core group of guys are all in their prime.
Bryce Harper is fun to watch (even if his peers think he’s overrated). He goes all-out on defense and often swings for the fences when he’s at-bat. Unfortunately, his playing style could lead to his early demise. He has missed 108 games the last two seasons due to injuries suffered in the outfield. If he can stay healthy for a full season, he could put up big numbers…but that’s a huge ‘if.’
Stephen Strasburg threw 200+ innings for the first time in his career in 2014. Can do it again this season?
Here is the 2015 MLB season preview for the Washington Nationals.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 96-66
Key Additions: SP Max Scherzer, RP Casey Janssen, SS Yunel Escobar, C Dan Butler, RP Heath Bell, RP Evan Meek, 1B Mike Carp, 1B Kila Ka’aihue, 3B Ian Stewart & 2B Dan Uggla
Key Losses: 1B Adam LaRoche, RP Tyler Clippard, RP Rafael Soriano, 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, OF Steven Souza, SP Ross Detwiler, OF Nate Schierholtz & OF Scott Hairston
Interleague Schedule: AL East
Projected Starters: Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman, Yunel Escobar, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, Michael Taylor, Denard Span & Bryce Harper
Projected Starting Rotation: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez & Doug Fister
Closer: Drew Storen
Fantasy Sleeper: RP Casey Janssen – I usually don’t like to pick a closer as a sleeper, since the position can be so darn fluid, but I’m not sold on Drew Storen. Janssen had shoulder issues early last year and lost the closer job in Toronto. At the same point last year, Washington wasn’t sure what to do with Storen, who was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 Draft. Storen was lights out last season and was named the closer by year’s end. Janssen could easily slip into that role if Storen looks more like the pitcher who had a 4.52 ERA in 2013.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP A.J. Cole – The 23-year-old 6’5 starter has a lot of upside. Washington drafted him out of high school with the 116th pick in the 2010 draft. They have advanced him through the farm system at a slow rate. He struggled his first two seasons, but has looked great the last two seasons in Double-A and Triple-A. He has fantastic control for a young pitcher (2.14 BB/9 in 500 minor league innings). I expect him to make his MLB debut at some point this season.
Team Analysis: The Nationals had a lot go wrong for them and yet they still won the NL East. Bryce Harper needed surgery to fix his thumb and missed two months, Rafael Soriano imploded in the second-half as their closer and Ryan Zimmerman’s shoulder all but fell off.
A lot went right for the Nationals too. Anthony Rendon became a five-tool player, Jordan Zimmermann turned into the strike-throwing machine they thought he would become and Stephen Strasburgh stayed healthy and topped 200 innings for the first time in his career. Those three players were the reason the Nationals won 96 games in 2014.
The Nationals didn’t stand pat this offseason. They struck gold by signing former Cy Young winner Max Scherzer to make their starting rotation one of the best in baseball. That was really their only major move they made this offseason. The rest of the acquisitions were for depth.
I believe Washington will once again win the NL East, but they need to make one more move at some point for a late-inning reliever. Drew Storen had a great season last year, but is he consistent enough to keep the closer job? He has the raw skills, but it’s just something to ponder.
2015 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 94 (Prediction: UNDER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 92-70 (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.