Washington Nationals MLB Futures 2018 Opening Lines
A Lackluster 2017
The Washington Nationals' 2017 was pretty similar to their 2016. Unfortunately for them, that meant a great regular season, but a quick exit in the postseason. They came into the season having lost a lot of their free agents, and failed to acquire most of the players they were eyeing, including names like Chris Sale, Andrew McCutchen, and Kenley Janson. Any of these would have made a huge difference in the Nationals' season. During the season, after some prominent bullpen issues arose, Washington acquired Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madsen to turn themselves into serious contenders.
And it worked.
The Nationals won 97 games and ended the season with a 20 game lead in the NL East. It didn't mean much in the playoffs though, even with home field, as the defending champion Cubs defeated Washington in five games, clinching the series in the nation's capital.
Will Dave Martinez Make The Difference in 2018?
The Nats are definitely one team that will be looking different going into the new season. Having not gotten past the NLDS since 1981, the cogs have already started moving in order to make those clutch plays in the postseason that could mean the difference between going home or winning it all. Case in point, their last NLDS, where they lost to the Cubs in Game 5 by a single run.
Starting at the top, Dusty Baker's contract was not renewed as manager, and Dave Martinez, former Cubs' bench coach, was signed on in his stead on a three year deal. He has played for the Nats back when they were the Expos, and was part of the World Series winning Cubs team in 2016, so seems to be a good fit. In terms of players, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson is going into free agency, along with relievers Matt Albers, Joe Blanton, Brandon Kintzler, and Oliver Perez.
Jayson Werth, Jose Lobaton, Alejandro De Aza, and Howie Kendrick are among others who are entering free agency. While their starting lineup can survive with how good Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are, they are losing a lot of the depth that they relied on heavily last season.
They have potential outfielder prospects they can use to obtain more infield presence, or bolster their starting pitching rotation which steeply drops off after their aces, especially with a hole where Jackson used to be. Whatever they choose to do, their change in management should make a big difference.
Will They Win Their Division?
After seeing how the Nats dominated the National League East Division last season, it would be hard to think of them not coming out on top of the division again, but it would be foolish to think the same result would repeat itself. Winning by 20 games is in itself a tough feat, and the Marlins and Mets could put up more of a fight than they did last season. Like with the Cubs last season however, look for the division to be highly contested up until the end, when the Nats should eventually take it.
Odds to Win the MLB World Series
The odds opened at +1000 for the Nationals to win the World Series. As with the Indians, the Nats have not proven themselves enough to merit a more favored price than the Yankees, who were a game away from the World Series. As of now, the Nats are still depleted and need to make some moves before the season starts.
It would be best to lay off the Nationals at this price of +1000 right now. They are surely going to make some trades to keep themselves in contention, but they don't have all the pieces yet to finally go deep in the playoffs. A 20 game lead in the division, but first round postseason exit is no way to play. There's no reason to take a team that hasn't proven themselves at such a bad price when there are other options. Nationals Park does get to host the All Star Game, but that'll be the only pomp of their season.
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