Baseball/MLB

2018 Washington Nationals and MLB Preview

Chris:

America’s greatest pastime is less than 24 hours away from kicking off it’s 142nd season. And let me tell you, I am VERY excited. I’m excited everytime baseball comes back. Because when baseball comes back, that means it’s going to get warm. It’s been a long cold winter here in the Nation’s Capital, but nothing beats a nice warm evening at Nationals Park watching Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer pile up the strikeouts, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman mashing Home Runs and Trea Turner flying all around the field. If you can’t tell, I’m pumped for this season. As a Nationals fan, we’ve had our highs and lows. But this year…THIS IS THE YEAR. I believe this is the year that the Nationals organization has been building towards since that gut wrenching loss in 2012. I still have nightmares about it. I had nightmares about last year’s playoff loss. Notice a theme here? And I didn’t even mention the other 2 playoff series losses. It’s time for this team to break through and exercise their playoff demons. No better time than now.

Diego:

Man, I honestly wasn’t invested into the new season until I seen Toronto Blue Jay Vladimir Guerrero Jr blast a walkoff homer- IN MONTREAL no less – in the final Spring Training game.

I’M ALL IN!

For our Nationals, this is indeed the biggest season in franchise history. It all orbits around the proverbial question, will Harper re-sign with the ballclub after this season? For Nats fans, we shouldn’t worry about that, because it’s not our money nor our decision. If Bryce decides to leave then its his god-given right to do just that. He’s played damn well and has played out his obligation. Beyond that, I’m excited that for the first time in this era of relevance, that we are going into the season with a solid bullpen along with a closer that isn’t a late free agent signing (Rafael Soriano) or a late season deadline pick-up (Matt Capps, Jonathan Papelbon, Mark Melancon). The team is loaded for another run to the playoffs. I’m going to enjoy this season as I do every season. I remember when this team was the laughingstock of the sport and I would rather not be there again. Yes, we haven’t won the big game when it mattered – and I believe those reasons are more attention-to-detail issues than any but I digress – but it’s better than sucking.

Chris:

I’m with you brother. This is the year. It might be our final year with Bryce in a Nationals uniform. Maybe the final year of having an overly dominant ace in Max Scherzer. I know he is locked in for a while, but I feel that after this year we will see a decline. From the top of the order, to the bottom of the order…From the starters to the relievers…This is easily the strongest Nationals team that we have ever had since they have been in DC. They should have no problem capturing the NL East Title again, but the question will always be; “Can they win a playoff series though?”. That is the million dollar question in which I pray that the answer is yes. I personally cannot keep doing this, my heart can’t take it. And deep down in my gut, I know that Bryce Harper is leaving. And if (when) he leaves, so do our title hopes. So we need to make the best of this final year and win the World Series.

As an aside to your Vlad comment. If you are the GM of Toronto and you have to make a decision at some point this year, do you deal Donaldson before the deadline for Vlad or let Josh walk at the end of the season?

Diego:

Of course you do. It’s a walk-year for Donaldson anyway and you need to make room for the new guys eventually. That’s one thing that I love about baseball, if your GM is worth a shit, there should always be someone waiting in the wings in the minors to take the spot of a proven talent if they should leave even if their talents don’t match the ones they are replacing.

With a robust free agent class after this season, the trade deadline should be fast and furious with transactions. Which teams do you think that will be in the fight till the end for these 10 playoff berths?

I am picking our Nationals to defeat the Astros to win the whole shebang in 6 games.

Chris:

I agree with you, if Toronto is smart, you deal Donaldson at the deadline. Someone will pay a premium for Josh because he is still a great player and could be the difference for a team in the title hunt.

As for the ten potential playoff teams, I feel like we will be suprised by at least one or two. I believe the Nats will run away with the NL east. I think the Yankees will win the AL east by a good margin. As a Nats fan, I’m glad that Mike Stanton is out of the division. He is gonna kill the AL and already let it be known that he’s come to wreck. Might have to make a trip to Baltimore this season. The Indians will take the AL Central and the defending champions will come out the West. I went in that order because these teams are locks, they are gonna be there unless something catastrophic happens to those teams. Now, in the National League Central and West, things could get really dicey. I want to say that the Dodgers will win the West, but San Francisco has reloaded by bringing in McCutcheon and Longoria to go along with what they already have. While Arizona is still a strong team, even with the loss of JD Martinez. Colorado is also in the hunt as well. With a lot of youth on that team along with Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, they can be really good or really bad. But my NL West pick is still the Dodgers. NL Central could be a battle between the Cubs and Milwaukee. Cubs are still the Cubs and they are still very good. MIlwaukee has added Yelich and Cain to go along with the good pitching they have. If the other guys can get it together (Villar, Braun, Thames, etc.), they will win the central. That’s why I am picking them to beat out the Cubs for the AL Central crown. As for the Wildcard teams, In the AL I am going to say that the Angels, who made a big push last year but fell short, will make the playoffs. Baseball needs Mike Trout in the playoffs. Mike Trout needs Mike Trout in the playoffs. Mike Trout has never won a playoff game. That’s strange right? The best player in baseball for the past 5 years hasn’t won a playoff game. That changes this year. The Angels will make it in and make some noise. I think the final AL Playoff spot will be held by the Mariners. This team has showed a lot of promise with their roster moves over the years, but have yet to really show what they can do. That changes this year. That’s right, I’m putting 3 teams from the AL West in the playoffs. As for the NL Wild Card, I think the reemergence of the Giants will happen and the Cubs will once again make a postseason appearance.

Dion:

My main issue with the Nationals is the fact that the team is either snakebitten or scared of the moment. One of the issues this team has had is an attention to detail. Playing October baseball is all about those small moments. We would hope to not have another Game Five implosion but that goes hand-in-hand with the small details this team has been piss poor at when the moments arrive. Would you have ever envisioned a Matt Wieters-like implosion that we saw? Or Scherzer not delivering? Or the countless times a batter could not advance a runner….it’s the difference in winning October ballgames. I think that we can finally get over that hump but if this team does not want to be mentioned with the Mariners of the early 2000’s as one of the most talented-yet-snakebitten postseason failures in recent memory, we HAVE to improve in that aspect. Also, Daniel Murphy’s injury has to be of concern. As great as he has been as a free agent, his two October’s as a National has left a little to be desired if we’re comparing him to his former Met seasons. Will he be able to produce the way he has when he returns?

Chris:

I am picking the Nationals to win it all and I believe that they will overcome all of the things that you mentioned. They owe to themselves and they owe it to the city and all of the fans that have supported them since they moved here. They are really the only team in this area that has a legitimate shot at a championship, they just have to seize the moment. Hopefully Murphy’s rehab stint works out and he’ll be back in the lineup sooner than later. We need this team to play at full strength for most of the season. But the X-Factor for this season is not someone who doesn’t play for the Nationals. The X-Factor will be our rookie manager Dave Martinez. Sure, he’s has success as an assistant in Chicago where he was apart of the Cubs team that won the World Series. Can he translate that into success here in Washington? Only time will tell. All the cards are setup in front of him, our success really depends on how he manages this team. We have had many coaches and all of them at some point have lost control of the team or made decisions that were detrimental at critical times. Knowing these things could either help or hinder Martinez this year, hopefully he will learn from the mistakes of his predecessors.

Overall, CiTLR is happy that baseball is back. We already experienced an exciting opening day where we saw Mike Stanton make a serious splash in his first game in pinstripes, the White Sox DH Matt Davidson hit 3 HR’s, and we also had 2 walk off opening day wins. I’d say that this season is off to a good start. The Nationals hit the field today at 4:00 to open their season with Max Scherzer on the bump as they start their journey towards the World Series! PLAY BALL!!!!!

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