Looking at the lineup (48 days in advance)

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The Nationals haven’t had a lack of hype surrounding their last two seasons. The magazines were filled with predictions of parades on the National Mall, banners on South Capitol Street and a Curly W in the books for the last game of the season. We all know the rest of the story –  two seasons, one regular season disappointment, one 18-inning heartbreak.

Despite the incorrect predictions, there are still two large and legitimate reasons that in the past two year’s baseball previews, in big, bold letters, under the “World Series Champions” label, the words “Washington Nationals” have appeared more often than nearly any other. One is their talented rotation, which analysts like me and those on MLB Network could babble on about for hours. The other is the depth of their lineup, the “Red Line”. The Nationals possess what many would call the most dangerous lineup from 1-8, with offensive weapons at every stop.

Given the changes in the lineup made over the offseason, the lineup has the possibility to be different. It’s hard to believe Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo would mess too much with last year’s success excepting an injury.

Last year, the Nationals lineup eventually stacked up like this:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Bryce Harper, LF

7. Wilson Ramos, C

8. Asdrubal Cabrera/Danny Espinosa/Kevin Frandsen, 2B

9. Pitcher

Despite early season woes, this lineup took the Nationals to an NL East Championship. The majority of the players remain – all but two. Even so, Ryan Zimmerman will move to 1B but it does give Matt Williams a couple options on how he wants to shape his lineup. Here’s (barring any trades or injuries) the official Side of Natitude prediction. Continue reading

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Is Denard Span the Leadoff Hitter?

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To win the game, you must score the most runs. To score runs, you have to drive in runners on base. That entire process begins with one player, the leadoff batter. In this case for the Nationals, Denard Span is that player. However, ever since trading for him in 2012,  Continue reading

Nothing special is happening in our nation’s capital

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28-29.

.229.

478.

Those are some interesting numbers for the Washington Nationals this  year. 28-29, their record. .229, their team batting average. 478, the amount of hits they’ve given up this year.

Yeah, somethings askew. After last year’s game 5 meltdown, Davey Johnson uttered the words, “World Series or bust”. It’s leaning towards the latter. In the early offseason, the Nats were a general pick for World Series champs in 2013. They were looking even better, with Denard Span and Rafael Soriano coming along for the rid, leaving the Nats with a great center fielder and a great closer. Opening day was marvelous. They won 2-0, as Strasburg pitched 7 stellar innings, and Bryce Harper hit two home runs. And then.

Then, it got hard, fast. 15-0 loss? Check. Losing to the Mets? Check. Injuries? Check. And that’s where we stand right now. Here are some reasons for Nats fans to be depressed, and then some reasons to be optimistic.

Why to be depressed: Bryce Harper is showing he can be injury prone, with knee and face injuries after playing too hard, crashing into multiple walls in California, and swelling in his knee has gone up. Jayson Werth is hurt, again, and he has missed 28 games already. Wilson Ramos has been gone for 30 games. Stephen Strasburg could be showing he’s destined for more time on the disabled list, and let’s not forget that the Nats’ bats have not heated up. At all. They average  3.46 runs a game. They are only better than Chicago and Miami. Ouch.

Why to be optimistic: Jayson Werth returns tomorrow, so that provides serious leadership not only in the clubhouse, but also in the games. He was crushing during rehab. Bryce Harper, after he gets back, should be returning to his incredible pace, and is pretty darn good in general. Ross Detwiler should be back in a week or two, and Nathan Karns has stepped up. Stephen Strasburg will pitch wednesday, so he seems to be okay. The Nats have been missing some of their big bats, so they will be a glad addition. Jordan Zimmermann has really come into his own, and is playing like an ace. LaRoche and Zimmerman have shaken off their cold starts, playing well now at the plate and in the field. (Zimmerman has reduced his errors a ton). The final thing to be happy about if you are a Nats fan is that the schedule is getting easier. Take a look at the april and may schedule comparing the Nats and Braves.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE NATS (Series): Cincinnati,  Atlanta,  St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, LA Dodgers,  San Fransisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta. HARD SERIES FOR NATS: 12.

HARD TEAMS FOR THE BRAVES: Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, San Fransisco, LA Dodgers, Washington. HARD SERIES FOR BRAVES: 8

The Nats’ schedule gets a lot easier, very soon. Like, tomorrow, starting a stint with the Mets and Twins, and they won’t see a “tough team” for another 2 weeks, and then it gets much easier come July. The Braves’ schedule gets harder around July.

I can’t tell you to be worried or optimistic for the rest of the season, but what I will tell you is this. The Nats have a great chance to win it all, and they have a great chance to miss the playoffs. We’ll just have to find out.

Nats look like they’re coming to play next year

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Sources say the Washington Nationals have signed Rafael Soriano to a 2 year, 28 million dollar contract. Don’t be surprised if next year’s slogan is World Series or bust.

This is just another signing for the Nats, like Denard Span, Dan Haren and others. But this is the biggest yet. Soriano is a great fit for the Nats, but it also shows that the Nats aren’t settling for “Good enough”. While last year was an incredible year for DC baseball, boasting baseball’s best record and a NL East division championship, this year looks even better.

Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann,, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and more will have playoff experience, and look like a recipe for success.

Here’s another reason they look pretty darn good – 4 or 5 of their bench players could be starting on almost any other team,  like Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi and Roger Bernadina.

Also, injuries won’t be haunting them. Strasburg will be pitching an entire season, and presumably the playoffs, Zimmerman’s rest and surgery will mean he is ready to go, plus other players.

Also, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and Miami do not look good at all this year, at all. The Nats’ young talent and veteran powers should make it extremely easy to propel them to another NL East division title.

But here’s the biggest thing this year: Everyone on the Nats knows they can do it. There is no doubt in any of their minds about this season. It isn’t a “Trial” – it’s real. They have the swagger and the team now.

So do I think the Nats are going to win the World Series?

That’s a clown question bro.