2019 Team Preview #11: Washington Nationals

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On to the preview!

Last Year

2018 Record: 84-78, 3rd place NL East, 12 Games Back

Baseball fans in the Capitol saw a decent season of baseball in 2018. The Nationals were basically right down the middle – average offense, average pitching, and a pretty average finish. One thing all parties can agree on, is they had an active and interesting off-season. Will it pay off with an October surprise of post-season baseball?

Key Additions

CF Ben Revere (FA)
LF Rymer Liriano (TOR via Trade)
SP Cole Swanson (TOR via Trade)
LF Eddie Rosario (BAL via Trade)
RF Augusto Garcia (CIN via Trade)
RP Aroldis Chapman (FA)
3B Wilmer Flores (FA)
RP Tom Wilhelmsen (TOR via Trade)
2B Dustin Pedrioa (TOR via Trade)
SP Edward Reith (HOU via Trade)
2B Alex Childs (HOU via Trade)
RF Larry Greene (COL via Trade)
RF Carlos Moncrief (TOR via Trade)

Key Losses

LF Edwin Rogers (TOR via Trade)
SP Raynel Velette (TOR via Trade)
RP Josh Spence (CIN via Trade)
1B Sergio Bereda (TOR via Trade)
LF Nolan Reimold (FA)
C Russell Martin (FA)
2B Preston Carver (HOU via Trade)
2B Joshua Magee (COL via Trade)
RP Carlos Pina (FA)
RF Miguel Velazquez (FA)
RP Bart Carter (FA)
CF Adam Milligan (FA)

Lineup/Rotation Projection

 

The Nats had a pedestrian offense in 2018, and clearly worked towards improving it. Out are past starters in LF, C and 2B replaced by Padre star Rymer Liriano (35 HR), rookie Ed Palmer (.835 OPS in AAA) and veteran former Red Dustin Pedrioa (.714 OPS in 106 G). That trio will be supplanted by holdover stars SS Julio Figueroa (16 HR, 27 SB), 3B Mike Moustakas (.286, 23 HR) and 1B Shane Opitz (.290, 25 2B). The team also signed speedy leadoff man CF Ben Revere (.290, 38 SB) to top the lineup. RF will be manned by the duo of Augusto Garcia (.945 OPS in 96 PA) and former Blue Jay Carlos Moncrief (17 HR).

On the mound, the injury and then departure (via trade) of staff ace Raynel Velette stings, but they’ve still got 2018 Cy Young winner Miguel Pineda (17-8, 2.68 ERA) to start the opener. He’ll be followed by the electric Mark Davies (4-1, 1.36 ERA in 12 GS), former Jay Cole Swanson (11-10, 163 K’s), former Astro prospect Edward Reith (6-0 in 7 GS) and veteran Tyson Ross (4.35 ERA). Former Angel setup man Aroldis Chapman (12.7 K/9) was signed to handle the closing duties and getting the ball to him will be the combination of Scott Trevail (11 Hld, 3.26 ERA), Anthony Bass (3.72 ERA), Bryan Shaw (9 Sv, 3.88 ERA). Long man out of the pen will likely be Marlon Vance (6-9, 8 Sv)

Outlook

The Nationals surely improved since we last saw them – albeit at a price. They took on a lot of money and losing Velette hurts, but his injury is now Toronto’s problem. Those things don’t truly impact the 2019 outlook. They did get a bit lucky win-wise last year – they were actually outscored by 43 runs, but went 84-78. I like the offense quite a bit, Pineda is obviously a big factor, but I don’t think they did quite enough to get over the hump.

This is the first review where I really dug into the teams not-yet-reviewed to see if we had a playoff team on our hands. I looked at the NL East teams, then back at the Nats. I looked at the NL Wild card contenders, then back at the Nats. I checked my phone, then looked back at the Nats. I held a seance, then re-looked at the Nats. Final verdict is while they’ve improved, and they’ll be in it into September, I think they’ll fall just short of the post-season, in 3rd place, at 87-75.