Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Scouting the NL East - the Washington Nationals

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth. (John Bazemore/AP)
Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth. (John Bazemore/AP)

Manager: Matt Williams

Last 5 years: 2013: 86-76, second place; 2012: 98-64, first place; 2011: 80-81, third place; 2010: 69-93, fifth place; 2009: 59-103, fifth place

Additions: RHP Doug Fister, RHP Chris Young, OF Nate McLouth, 3B Jamey Carroll

Losses: LHP Jerry Blevins, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, RHP Dan Haren, LHP Ian Krol

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    What to expect: A year removed from their first division title as the Washington Nationals in 2012, it was a tough start for the team that finished the season strong. The Nationals ended up with an 86-76 record, good for second place in the NL East. Manager Davey Johnson resigned after the season.

    This season, Washington is back on track to fight for the division crown under first-year manager Matt Williams. With the resurgence of rightfielder Jayson Werth, who batted .318/.398/.532 with 25 home runs and 82 RBI, the Nationals have arguably the strongest outfield in the division with Denard Span and Bryce Harper alongside Werth.

    With an already-strong rotation centered around 25-year-old ace Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals traded two pitching prospects and second baseman Steve Lombardozzi to the Tigers for righthanded pitcher Doug Fister in the offseason. It was a quiet move, but it gives Washington a quality fourth starter for a low price. Sandwiched between Strasburg and Fister fall former Phillie Gio Gonzalez and righthander Jordan Zimmermann, with the fifth spot up for grabs.

    In addition to one of the National League's best rotations, Washington also has a solid bullpen to accompany its young rotation. Between Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals were able to bridge the game to closer Rafael Soriano, who finished last season with 43 saves and a 3.11 ERA. In 2013, the Nationals had the eighth-best pitching staff in the MLB, with a staff ERA of 3.59 and a .249 BAA.

    The Nationals are expected to battle the Braves for much of the summer for the division title. In addition to the high expectations for his team, leftfielder Bryce Harper could be a contender for the NL MVP award at age 21.

    Projected lineup

    * CF Denard Span

    * SS Ian Desmond

    * RF Jayson Werth

    * LF Bryce Harper

    * 3B Ryan Zimmerman

    * C Wilson Ramos

    * 1B Adam LaRoche

    * 2B Anthony Rendon

    Projected rotation

    * RHP Stephen Strasburg

    * LHP Gio Gonzalez

    * RHP Jordan Zimmermann

    * RHP Doug Fister

    * To be determined

    Top relievers

    * RHP Drew Storen

    * RHP Tyler Clippard

    * CL Rafael Soriano

    Tomorrow: Scouting the Phillies

    John Murrow Daily News Staff Writer
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