The Nationals were, in my opinion, the biggest disappointment in all of MLB even though they finished strong to end at 86-76. Davey Johnson retired, leaving Matt Williams with a very strong team. They traded for RHP Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67, 32 starts), LHP Jerry Blevins (5-0, 3.15, 67 games) and Jose Lobaton (.249, 7, 32). They also signed free agents Nate McLouth (.258, 12, 36, 30 SB) and Kevin Frandsen (.234, 5, 26). To me, the depth is what is going to make this team strong as every team will have to deal with injuries. The Nationals seem to have a backup at every position of the team.
Bryce Harper (.274, 20, 58) is taking over the role as the franchise player. That used to belong to 3B Ryan Zimmerman (,275, 26, 79) as well as Jayson Werth (.318, 25, 82) and 1B Adam LaRoche (.237, 20, 62). SS Ian Desmond (.280, 20, 80) has come into his own as the team's SS. CF Denard Span (.279, 4, 47), 2B Anthony Rendon (.265, 7, 35) and C Wilson Ramos (.272, 16, 59) give the team a strong lineup. I'd line them up like this: Span CF, Werth RF, Harper LF, Zimmerman 3B, Desmond SS, LaRoche 1B, Rendon 2B, Ramos C. The bench is solid with McLouth, Lobaton, Danny Espinosa, Frandsen and Scott Hairston.
The starting staff is one of the top in all of baseball led by Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.00, 30 starts), Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36, 32 starts) and Jordan Zimmermann (19-9, 3.25, 32 starts). RHPs Tanner Roark (7-1, 1.51, 14 games, 5 starts) and Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.66, 9 starts) will fill in until Fister is ready to come back.
Rafael Soriano (3-3, 43 saves, 3.11, 68 games) has lost a little zip off his fastball. He still has RHPs Tyler Clippard (6-3, 2.41, 72 games) and Drew Storen (4-2, 4.52, 68 games) setting him up and will be joined by Blevins this season. Also joining the pen this season will be former starter Ross Detwiler (2-7, 4.04, 13 games, all starts), who should shine as a late game reliever. Craig Stammen (7-6, 2.76, 55 games) adds to the depth.
I think the best thing that could have happened to the Nationals di last season with them not making the playoffs. They needed a feeling of vulnerability and now realize that it does not come that easy. I think the team will click on all cylinders and has a chance to have a magical season. Vegas has them at 88.5 for the over/ under and I will obviously take the over at 96-66. 1st place in the NL East division. I have them in the World Series, beating the Rangers in 5 games for the 1st World Series Championship in Washington since the Senator won it all in 1924. Ironically, the Rangers are a disciple of the second Senators franchise, the expansion team of 1961.