The first quarter of the 2017 season has been quite the ride; full of walk offs, bullpen atrocities, and battles for tiny resin humans. With the Washington Nationals 39 games into the season (roughly 24%), holding a record of 25-14, now is a good time to look at how the rest of the season should shape up.
Like good Washington sports fans, Nationals faithful are panicking. This week, like most weeks this season, the hot takes, angry tweets, and general unrest centers around the much-maligned bullpen. But take heart, folks! I’m here to tell you that the bullpen is not actually the Nationals biggest hindrance in making a playoff, but in fact, there’s something else to lose sleep over: Centerfield!
The Nationals bullpen is a dumpster fire, but you already know that. Like any good dumpster fire, there is always going to be that other man who says “but we need to put that out, there’s treasure in there!” Well folks, you are that “other man” and that other man’s “treasure” is Jacob Turner.
Now that the Nationals are healthy and Trea Turner is back and cycling around the bases, Dusty Baker is burdened with the best of problems: how does he build his lineup? Earlier this week, Court Swift discussed his optimal lineup with everyone healthy, but here we’re going to look at the options I think Dusty will be seriously considering for the long-term. Normally I would say that with a team this talented and deep, they can go the route of playing matchups and the hot hand. But Dusty is far too traditional for that, so my thinking is that within the next week or so he’s going to really decide on a lineup to stick with (until the next injury changes everything). I see three likely options.
Three turns of the rotation into the 2017 season and the most frustrating pitcher on the Nationals staff has put together a trio of strong starts. Gio Gonzalez has allowed only three earned runs (plus two unearned) in 20 1/3 innings, and if not for The 2017 Nationals Bullpen in his first start and The 2017 Nationals Bullpen in his third start, the 31-year old lefthander would have three wins as well.