The 2017 season has been one of many surprises, both good and bad. The Nationals have been absolutely decimated by injuries, but a few not-so-big names have stepped ably into their place. At 73-47, the Nationals are on a 99-win pace and hold a comfortable 14-game division lead. But if they hadn’t had their major injuries, would they be on a 106-win pace? Or if their bench hadn’t stepped up, would they be on their way to 87 wins? Let’s break down all these surprises and see if we can’t figure out the impact they’ve had on this team.
Mike Rizzo finally made the deal every single person in any way affiliated with the Nationals had been clamoring for since April, landing a pair of proven late-inning relievers in Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from Oakland in exchange for proven not-late-inning reliever Blake Treinen and prospects 3B Sheldon Neuse and LHP Jesus Luzardo.
A few months ago, I wrote about some relievers the Nationals could pursue in a trade. In the intervening months, during which the Nats’ bullpen has only festered further, more rumors have sprung up about who the Nats may be interested in. As such, I’ll break down a few of those names using the same system I used last time — rating each player’s ability and acquisition price.
Today is the NHL’s expansion draft. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick primer of the NHL expansion rules: each team is allowed to select a certain number of its players to protect. Any others are eligible to be selected by the expansion team, which must select exactly one player from each team.
So, in the spirit of keeping things topical, I decided to take a crack at seeing who the Nationals would protect in an expansion draft. MLB had its own expansion draft 20 years ago when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined, and therefore has its own set of rules.
By all accounts, the Nationals had a good draft. In the part that really matters — Day 1, which is composed of the first two rounds — they did what has worked so well for them in the past: Pick players (usually pitchers) who fall for reasons other than ability. The selections of lefty Seth Romero and righty Wil Crowe meet those criteria to a T, as Romero fell due to character concerns and Crowe fell due to medical concerns after his return from Tommy John surgery. In the part that matters least — Day 3, which is rounds 11-40 — they did what every team does: Select enough players to fill out your minor league teams, with a few unsignable high schoolers and your executives’ grandkids thrown in.
NOTE: This post will be updated through the day as more mock drafts include the latest intel. All updates will be clearly marked as such.
The MLB Draft is today, and boy am I excited.
As has been mentioned in every single article about the Nationals for the past four weeks, their bullpen is bad. But for once, this is an article that isn’t (directly) about them.
After yet another game in which the bullpen proved porous, Nats Twitter is once again abuzz with demands for a new reliever. As if there was any doubt, the team has acknowledged its greatest weakness in a significant way, announcing that top starting pitching prospect Erick Fedde will shift to relief with an eye towards contributing in the majors sooner rather than later.
But even returns to form from existing relievers and a star turn from Fedde would not be enough to rescue the sorry bunch that is the Nationals’ relief corps. It’s stupendously likely that the Nationals will move to acquire a reliever at the trade deadline. That deadline is still more than two months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about guys who might soon be wearing the curly W.
With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.
—Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde