Court Swift has already written about the importance of the head-to-head matchup against the Mets this year. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, considering all the facts before us. I want to go further, however, and contend that all things being equal, the single biggest factor in determining the division race this year will be Daniel Murphy.
Tag Archives: Washington Nationals
Debate over who should lead off for the Nationals began as soon as Mike Rizzo dealt three top pitchers (they may leave our farm system, but never our hearts) for Adam Eaton. Eaton’s calling card was his ability to lead off and play great outfield defense – two things Trea Turner did for the 2016 version of the Nats. But Eaton took Turner’s centerfield spot, so Turner took Danny Espinosa‘s shortstop job, and Danny was sent home to California to grow his beard. Turner managed to keep his leadoff job coming out of spring training, but not coming off the DL as Dusty Baker used the return of Turner to switch a few things up. I wouldn’t stop there — I’d go a step further. Here would be my lineup:
The Nationals have finished either 1st or 2nd in the NL East every year since 2012, winning in ’12, ’14, and ’16.
The Mets have finished either 1st or 2nd in the NL East every since 2014, winning in ’15.
Some days the universe works against you. It laughs at the person realizing they studied the wrong chapters for an exam or at the person getting in the wrong metro car on their commute to work. Some days, the culmination of events is just so perverse that it laughs at you as the person who spilled their drink on you at the game recounts every life event that led them there — the same guy who spent the first five innings explaining why the Matt Williams joke he heard you tell is wrong.
Every Nats fan knows June 8, 2010. The immortal Charlie Slowes bellowed the now-famous line: “Remember where you are, so you remember where you were!” It was voted one of the Five Greatest Moments in Nationals history. The “Natinals” were a laughing stock after the incredible 50-31 run in the first half of 2005, compiling a 362 -529, a paltry .406 winning percentage since. Stephen Strasburg’s debut was the first tangible fruit of “The Plan.” His debut filled Nationals Park with a playoff-like atmosphere, and he did not disappoint.
As we all know, the past year has been rough on the Nationals’ minor league system. Trades and promotions have turned what was once an excellent farm into just a mediocre one, with only a handful of high-end prospects remaining. While all of these moves have been done for the betterment of the major league club, the farm system is still in need of some restocking at all levels. With a low draft pick combined with a small bonus pool, as well as a cap on international spending after blowing through the cap last July 2nd, the traditional methods of restocking the farm offer limited near term value.
If the early returns prove to be any indication, 2017 will be a strong year for Erick Fedde. The right-hander, who is perhaps the most recognizable pitching prospect in the system, has gotten off to a fast start at Double-A Harrisburg, leaving hope that he will build on his early success.
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.
Thanks to some quirks in the early season schedule, Joe Ross finally takes the bump for the Nationals in 2017 today. Ross hopes to build on the positives from 2016, while avoiding the injuries that cut his previous season short. As the youngest member of the Nationals’ starting rotation, there are plenty of positive signs for Cool Joe Ross but some causes for concern as well heading into 2017.