The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. After six long months of baseball-less drudgery, the Washington Nationals will play the first game of the 2014 season at Citi Field against the New York Mets on Monday.
The Nationals have finished the season with a winning record against the Mets for the last three years, and will look to start that trend again this season. Washington is the favorite to win the NL-East, and is thus expected to continue handling the Mets, who finished last season with a 74-88 record.
However, the Mets are coming into this season with gusto after general manager Sandy Alderson set big expectations for the franchise, privately predicting a 90-win season. Though some have scoffed at the prediction, Mets third baseman David Wright believes the team is capable of that level of success.
“I think 90 is challenging, it’s attainable,” Wright said, according to MLB.com. “I think 90 is a good starting point for giving us something to shoot for and getting guys to understand that mediocrity is not going to be acceptable.”
But before the season has even begun, the Mets aren’t off to a promising start. Second baseman Daniel Murphy, who is a .299 career hitter against the Nationals, will not play in the season opener because his wife is in labor, and centerfielder Chris Young will sit out with the flu.
After months of anticipating the batting order Nationals Manager Matt Williams would choose to start Opening Day, when it was finally announced this morning it did not resemble the most popular predictions.
The biggest surprise was making catcher Wilson Ramos the number four hitter, a spot that was popularly thought to be slated for Bryce Harper or Ryan Zimmerman, among others.
Though the decision to let Ramos hit cleanup was a surprise, his teammates were comfortable with the move.
“Everyone that knows him knows that he is capable of doing that, but now it is just letting the world know it,” shortstop Ian Desmond said.
“Watch his BP one time,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “[That] will tell you that he is one of the top of the game.”
Ramos hit .272 with a .470 slugging percentage in 78 games last year after coming back from injury. If he stays healthy this year, he has the potential to do some serious damage from this crucial place in the Nationals’ lineup.
Talk of potential and promise abounds on Opening Day, as the season presents itself as a blank slate. Williams put it best when he said, “If you can’t get excited about Opening Day, something’s wrong.”
With 162 games ahead of us, here’s to getting excited about the 2014 Nationals.
In The Zone
Denard Span (CF) .370 AVG, .382 OBP, .463 SLG, 54 AB, 3 SB
Chris Young (CF) .310 AVG, .365 OBP, .500 SLG, 58 AB, 3 SB
Eric Young (LF) .296 AVG, .377 OBP, .370 SLG, 54 AB, 3 SB
Curtis Granderson (CF) .157 AVG, .241 OBP, .353 SLG, 51 AB, 16 SO
David Wright (3B) .200 AVG, .245 OBP, .267 SLG, 45 AB, 8 SO
3/31, Stephen Strasburg (0-0) vs. Dillon Gee (0-0)
4/2, Gio Gonzalez (0-0) vs. TBA
4/3, Jordan Zimmermann (0-0) vs. TBA