Offensively, they have to manage without OF Michael Morse, who will be out indefinitely. 3B Ryan Zimmerman may go on the DL, which will put the team in a hole offensively. Luckily 1B Adam LaRoche and RF Jayson Werth have hit better than expected, otherwise this team would not be able to score any runs. They need Morse and Zimmerman in the lineup and have to manage in the meantime if the want to compete for their division.
They have pitched better than anybody in the division, to this point, and there is no reason it cannot hold up. Gonzalez and Strasburg are a set of aces and they should continue to dominate. Zimmermann was filthy stuff, so their top three is set. Henry Rodriguez should have a breakout year as a closer for the first time, and remember, they have Tyler Clippard and Brad Lidge getting him the ball in the 9th. So, assuming Ryan Zimmerman and Morse return and the pitching holds up, what can get in the way of the Nationals winning the NL East?
Answer: BABYING PITCHERS WITH STUPID INNINGS LIMITS AND PITCH COUNTS! Imagine the Nationals sitting on an 8 game lead on September 1st. Because of innings limits, Strasburg, Zimmermann and Detwiler are ruled out for the season. They still have Gonzalez and Jackson, and by that time, Chien Ming Wang will be healthy and John Lannan, if he isn't traded will be called up from AAA. Tom Gorzellanny, who had been a reliever all season, moves into the starting rotation. Nothing against Wang, Lannan and Gorzellanny, but what happens if the team blows the lead after comprimising their rotation? A young team cannot burden itself with a historic collapse and expect to bounce back. ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY STOP PUTTING THEIR BEST TEAM ON THE FIELD! Players get hurt. You have to deal with injuries, but please tell me how the babying of Joba Chamberlain worked. What if the young players never bounce back after such a collapse?
Also, what if the team is up a game or two? How about if every September game means something? What if there a dogfight with two or three other teams? What does Davey Johnson tell his team? Does he say, we can't pitch our best pitchers because they are on innings limit, so if we lose its ok? I doubt it. Even though I'm sure Davey understands how this crap has taken over the game, and that these pitchers are more possessions that human beings to these organizations. All the teams care about if protecting their investments. Its obviously not working when there are more arm injuries than ever. It seems mostly every pitcher undergoes Tommy John surgery at least once in their career now. So how is this working?
I actually root for this to happen. Not only to Washington, but to Kansas City and even Tampa Bay. I'd like to see the Royals put together their young staff of Danny Duffy, Aaron Crow and Mike Montgomery- then have to shut them down in the middle of a pennant race. Perhaps the Rays can do the same to Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore. I hope the more this happens, the stupider these teams look, sacrificing the chance to win with self imposed restrictions on their own pitchers. And I will laugh when they have Tommy John surgery anyway.
Where was Tommy John surgery 30 years ago? How come there were so many less arm injuries than there are now? As early as the late 70s-early 80s, pitchers completed a lot higher percentage of games than they do now. And they did not get arm injuries at the rate they do now a days. I understand the money factor with these pitchers coming out of high school and college and signing these huge contracts before they ever pitch in a big league game. But when is anybody going to realize that this system is not working?