Category Archives: Washington Nationals

2018 NL East Predictions

  1. Washington Nationals

The Nationals are definitely the team to beat in the NL East and there isn’t really a team that will likely compete with them in 2018. Washington has a terrific lineup led by Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmermann, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. Also, having a healthy Adam Eaton for the 2018 season makes this lineup even better. It is very difficult to find a weakness in their lineup as they have very dangerous hitters from top to bottom. Washington also has a very good starting rotation especially with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. It will be key that those 3 pitchers stay healthy because they have struggled with injuries in recent seasons. Washington also has a very good bullpen with Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler as solid late-inning options. Overall, it is very difficult to find any weakness on this roster and they are not only the favorites to win the NL East, but they are legitimate world series contenders as well.

2. New York Mets

The Mets should certainly be a playoff contender if all goes well in 2018 and they might even provide some competition to the Nationals in the division. New York has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB with Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jason Vargas. However, the issue for the Mets is that their starting pitchers have really struggled to stay healthy. If the Mets pitchers can stay healthy for the most part in 2018 then they will clearly carry the team. The Mets also have a decent lineup led by very good outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto. New York also added 3rd baseman Todd Frazier this offseason to provide even more depth to their lineup. It is unknown what they will get from the other starters like Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez. However, if the Mets lineup can be above average then the Mets could be a very good team. New York’s bullpen also has the potential to be good as Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, and A.J. Ramos are all good late-inning options. However, the team needs to find a more reliable closer than they had last season and hopefully Familia can improve in that role in 2018. New York still has a few weaknesses that will hold them back, but if their starting rotation can just stay healthy and their lineup can be average then this could be a playoff team.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia had a very disappointing 2017 season, but they made several key additions that should help them to at least be a respectable team in 2018. Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams are two solid outfielders that provide some power in the Phillies lineup and they should only get better in 2018. Also, the team signed veteran 1st baseman Carlos Santana this offseason and he will provide a big power bat in the middle of their lineup for sure. However, Philadelphia needs more production from other players in their lineup like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies have the potential to be a good hitting team, but it is unknown what type of production that their young players can provide. However, Philadelphia clearly needs some starting pitching help. Aaron Nola is the clear ace for the Phillies rotation, but besides him the rotation is very inconsistent. The key for the Phillies pitching staff will be whether Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez can improve from their poor 2017 seasons. If Eickhoff and Velasquez can return to form in 2018 then the Phillies could have a decent starting rotation. However, Philadelphia still needs to find some better 4th or 5th starters as they are relying on unproven players Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively to fill those roles. Philadelphia did improve their bullpen this offseason though as they signed Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek to be reliable setup options for quality closer Hector Neris. Philadelphia is a team that has high potential for the 2018 season, but they could also be a very bad team in 2018. The Phillies need their young players to step up and if they do so then the Phillies could possibly be a playoff contender.

4. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta is a similar team to the Phillies because they are still in a rebuild mode, although the Braves still could be a team that surprises some people this season. Freddie Freeman is an elite player that will carry the Braves offense once again in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup isn’t too much of a threat. Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte should continue to be productive players, although neither provides much power as they only combined for 19 home runs last season. However, if the Braves want to be successful offensively they will need more production out of young infielders Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, and Ozzie Albies. Atlanta’s lineup has tons of potential with the young players that they have, although don’t expect much production out of it in 2018 besides Freeman. The Braves starting rotation doesn’t appear to be very good heading into the 2018 season. Julio Teheran is the only good starting pitcher that the team really has and even he didn’t have a very good 2017 season. Atlanta is hoping that Teheran can bounce back and be the ace that he has been for most of his career. The Braves also have Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb as a couple of inconsistent young starting pitchers. Both of those guys have tremendous potential, although they haven’t proven that they can be consistent starters at the MLB level. Atlanta will likely struggle quite a bit with their starting pitching and that will hold them back from being a competitive team. The Braves bullpen should be good this season as they have talented young closer Arodys Vizcaino leading the way. However, the depth behind him is kind of concerning as Jose Ramirez and A.J. Minter are the next best options and both of them are kind of unproven. Overall, Atlanta is a team that has some talented young players, but unless those players make significant improvements in 2018 then this team probably won’t be very competitive.

5. Miami Marlins

New owner Derek Jeter came in this offseason and basically made the Marlins a Triple-A team for the 2018 season as he traded away basically every quality player that the team had. The Marlins had a great outfield with Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. However, Jeter decided to significantly cut payroll and he traded all three of those players away. The Marlins did get some good prospects back in those deals by acquiring Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz., yet that won’t help the Marlins be competitive in 2018. Brinson could win a starting job for the Marlins in 2018, but the other two guys will likely be starting in the minor leagues. Miami still has some good players in their lineup with J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, and Starlin Castro. However, the rest of the lineup is just filled with very unproven players or players like Cameron Maybin and Derek Dietrich that are just temporary starters. The Marlins won’t score many runs this season especially if they trade away Realmuto which they are highly likely to do. Meanwhile, the Marlins rotation have a couple of good starting pitchers with Dan Straily and Jose Urena. However, the rest of the rotation is not very good and they will be relying on unproven starting pitchers to make their rotation effective. The Marlins bullpen could be decent, but they will need closer Brad Ziegler and setup man Junichi Tazawa to improve tremendously in 2018 because they both weren’t good last season. Overall, Miami is arguably the worst team in the MLB heading into the 2018 season and they basically will be lucky if they are even a respectable team.


Nationals sign Adams to a 1-year contract

The Washington Nationals upgraded their depth in free agency as they have signed 1st baseman Matt Adams to a 1-year/$4 million contract. Adams had a terrific season in 2017 for the Cardinals and Braves as he hit .271 with a career-high 20 home runs and 65 RBI’s. Adams probably could have gone elsewhere to be a starting 1st baseman, but the Nationals give him a good chance to play for a winning team as they are almost guaranteed to make the postseason in 2018. Adams will be valuable for the Nationals as he is a really good pinch-hitter and he also provides Washington with some versatility as he can play 1st base and either corner outfield position. Also, starting 1st baseman Ryan Zimmermann is 33 years old and he has been consistently injured in recent years, so having Adams around just in case is a smart idea since he is a starting caliber 1st baseman. The Nationals were already a really good team before this signing, yet this addition just makes the team even deeper.

Grade: B+

matt adams

Nationals re-sign Kintzler to a 2-year contract

The Washington Nationals are keeping their bullpen intact for the 2018 season as they have re-signed veteran relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler to a 2-year/$10 million contract. Kintzler was acquired by the Nationals from the Twins at the trade deadline last season and he did a decent job as a setup man for Washington as he had a 3.46 ERA with the team. He was even better as the closer for Minnesota prior to being traded as he had a 2.78 ERA and he was named an all-star for the first time last season. Kintzler provides much more stability to the Nationals bullpen as he has the ability to step in as the closer if needed. However, it is likely that he will just continue to be the 7th inning setup man for the Nationals as Ryan Madson is the 8th inning pitcher and Sean Doolittle is the closer. Washington had major bullpen issues recently, but now it appears that they have solidified their bullpen by having all 3 of those players that they acquired at the trade deadline last season. The Nationals are almost guaranteed to be a playoff team next season as they play in a very weak NL East division, yet having Kintzler back could help the Nationals a lot especially in the postseason. This is a great signing for the Nationals especially at a relatively cheap price considering his recent accomplishments.

Grade: A

brandon kintzler

Phillies trade Kendrick to the Nationals

The Philadelphia Phillies continued trading away their veteran players as they sent left fielder Howie Kendrick to the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league pitching prospect McKenzie Mills.


Philadelphia Phillies analysis/grade:

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Phillies since Howie Kendrick is a free agent after the season and he wasn’t a starter for the Phillies anyway. Kendrick provided the Phillies with a player that can play many positions and he provided quality veteran leadership to the young Phillies roster. However, it made sense for the Phillies to trade away Kendrick now rather than lose him for nothing. The Phillies ended up acquiring 21-year old left-handed starting pitcher prospect McKenzie Mills who is having an outstanding season in Low-A. Mills has a 12-2 record with a 3.01 ERA in 18 starts this season which is remarkable considering how terrible he was in his first 2 minor league seasons. Mills is striking out tons of batters and he seems to have improved his control considerably this year. He is still far away from reaching the major leagues, but if he can continue to pitch well consistently like he has this season then he could reach the MLB level in a few years. Mills is an intriguing prospect and it is a good return for the Phillies to get for a veteran player that didn’t play much anyway.

Grade: B


Washington Nationals analysis/grade:

This is a good trade for the Nationals to make in order to improve their depth as they look to make a deep postseason run this season. Kendrick is 34 years old and he will only be a rental player for the Nationals since he is a free agent after this season. However, Kendrick has proven that he can still be a very effective player as he hit .340 with 18 RBI’s for the Phillies in limited playing time this season. The Nationals will probably have Kendrick split time with Adam Lind in left field, but Kendrick is very useful since he can play many different positions. The Nationals didn’t have to give up much for Kendrick and he should be a useful player for the Nationals as they look to make a world series run. Washington lacked depth on their bench prior to this trade and Kendrick definitely will improve this team immediately.

Grade: B+

howie kendrick

3 Takeways from opening day

3. The San Diego Padres are a worse team than we expected

There aren’t very high expectations heading into the season as they are terrible in every aspect of their roster. However, opening day just proved how terrible this team will likely be this season and they could even be worse than I expected. San Diego lost 14-3 to the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day. Sure, the Dodgers could compete for a world series this year, but there is never an excuse for a team to allow 14 runs on opening day. Jhoulys Chacin is supposedly the team’s best starting pitcher and if he is the best that they have then I don’t really want to see their worst pitcher because he allowed 9 runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The bullpen for the Padres wasn’t much better, so there doesn’t look to be much hope for the Padres pitching staff. San Diego didn’t do well offensively either, but I expected that considering that they were facing Clayton Kershaw. However, the Padres are basically a minor league team playing at the major league level and they had many players playing today with very little MLB experience. San Diego should be a better team as the season goes on, but right now I’m not sure they even deserve to compete at the MLB level because they looked awful on opening today.

2. Blake Treinen surprisingly could be a good closer for the Nationals

The Nationals had a major question mark as to who their closer would be heading into this season after elite closer Mark Melancon left in free agency. Blake Treinen was just recently named the team’s closer and he certainly didn’t disappoint on opening day. Treinen was faced with a save situation and he made it look easy as he had 2 strikeouts to close out the Marlins in a 4-2 victory on Monday. Treinen faced three really tough hitters and he made them look foolish. It is only opening day, so Treinen could still get worse, but at least he eased some of the concern in the closer role for now.

1. Kansas City might be rebuilding soon once again

Just a couple of years ago, the Kansas City Royals were the best team in the MLB and yet they now are showing signs that they aren’t even contenders anymore. Kansas City suffered an embarrassing loss on opening day as the lowly Minnesota Twins demolished the Royals 7-1. Danny Duffy was outstanding for the Royals, but after he left the game the Royals just completely fell apart. Kansas City’s bullpen was terrible as they allowed 6 runs in only 2 innings of work combined and that is a concern as that has been the strength of their team in recent years. Also, the offense only managed 1 run on 3 hits against a Twins pitching staff that isn’t very overpowering. Kansas City has a lot of key players hitting free agency after the season, so they might have to start trading away players and start rebuilding once again this year. The Royals have many areas to improve in order to contend and they can’t lose to teams like Minnesota if they want to have any chance of making the playoffs in 2017.


Biggest need remaining for every NL East team

Atlanta Braves – Biggest need: 2nd base

There is no doubt that Jace Peterson will be the Braves everyday starter at 2nd base, but he will need to be more consistent than he was last season. Peterson hit .254 with just 7 home runs last season, so Atlanta will need him to be better going forward. The Braves did add utility infielder Sean Rodriguez this offseason as a backup 2nd baseman. However, Atlanta will have to do something to improve the position very soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest need: Shortstop

Adeiny Hechavarria is a shortstop that makes incredible defensive plays often, but his offense has certainly been a weakness throughout his MLB career. Hechavarria hit only .236 with 3 home runs last season so he is definitely an issue in the Marlins lineup. He doesn’t hit consistently and he doesn’t hit for much power as well. The only reason that he is the Marlins everyday shortstop is because of his defensive abilities. Miami needs some more depth at the position either way and it isn’t worth starting Hechavarria just for his defense since he is a liability offensively.

New York Mets – Biggest need: Catcher

The catcher position was a major weakness for the Mets last season especially after their starter Travis d’Arnaud was injured for a large portion of the year. d’Arnaud wasn’t a great option anyway for the Mets as he hit only .247 with 4 home runs in 2016. The Mets have solid depth at catcher, yet they need to find an upgrade at the position over d’Arnaud.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest need: Right Fielder

Philadelphia has a big need in right field as they have two inexperienced players that will compete for the starting job in 2017. Roman Quinn is the projected starter in right field right now, but he has hit only .263 in 57 career at-bats. Aaron Altherr has more experience than Quinn, but Altherr is a career .212 hitter which isn’t very promising. Either way, it is a mystery as to how Quinn or Altherr will perform with the starting right field job. The Phillies need to sign a veteran right fielder to a 1-year deal in order to provide a temporary solution to the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest need: Closer

The Nationals let go of closer Jonathan Papelbon after he had a poor season in 2016 and the team was confident that they would be able to sign a top free agent closer. However, all of the top free agent closers are now signed and yet the Nationals still have a need for a closer. The Nationals’ options at closer are running out and it appears that they’ll have to find a closer from their roster. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis are all candidates to be the team’s closer in 2017. However, none of those guys seems like a very good option especially for a team that has world series aspirations.

White Sox trade Eaton to the Nationals

The Chicago White Sox continued their rebuilding process on Wednesday by trading outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for right-handed pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning.

Nationals evaluation:

This trade signals that the Nationals are clearly going for it all in 2017 as they are hoping that Adam Eaton can be a key piece to make the Nationals world series contenders. Eaton has been a very good and consistent player for the past few years. However, it seems like the Nationals gave up too much in order to acquire Eaton. Lucas Giolito was viewed as the Nationals best prospect and Reynaldo Lopez was ranked as the team’s number 3 prospect. Also, Dane Dunning was the 1st round pick for the Nationals just last season and he is a quality prospect as well. It does make sense for Washington to acquire Eaton since they can now play him in his natural position of center field. Meanwhile, the Nationals can move star player Trea Turner from center field back to his normal position of shortstop. Eaton doesn’t bring much power to the Nationals lineup as the most home runs that he has hit is 14. However, Eaton does have a good batting average and he drives in runs as well as he hit .284 with 59 RBI’s for the White Sox last season. Eaton will probably never be a star player in the MLB and he isn’t a flashy player. However, he does basically everything well as he is a consistent hitter and a solid defensive player as well. The Nationals are clearly getting a very good player with Adam Eaton, yet the prospects that the Nationals gave up is way too much. This is a trade that will help the Nationals right away, but long-term this is a deal that they could really regret considering the young talent that they gave up.

Grade: C-

White Sox evaluation:

The White Sox are clearly in a rebuild mode after they traded away star pitcher Chris Sale to the Red Sox on Tuesday. Clearly, Chicago has no plans to compete next season which is why the Adam Eaton trade makes so much sense. Eaton is a good player, but he isn’t the type of player that the White Sox can build around for the future. He is a good complimentary piece on a contending team, but he would do no good for a rebuilding White Sox team. This trade looks even better when considering the 3 outstanding prospects that Chicago received in return for Eaton. Lucas Giolito is a top 5 prospect in all of baseball and he could be an ace one day for the White Sox. Giolito dominated during his 5 seasons in the minor leagues as he was 25-15 with a 2.73 ERA. However, Giolito was terrible in 4 starts at the MLB level last season as he went 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He is clearly close to being an MLB-ready pitcher, although he will probably start next season in Triple-A until the White Sox feel he is ready. Also, Reynaldo Lopez is an extremely talented right-handed pitcher as well. Lopez didn’t dominated in the minors like Giolito did, yet Lopez did put up a respectable 19-19 record with a 3.16 ERA during 5 seasons in the minors. He made his MLB debut last season and he went 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA. Lopez is close to being an MLB-ready pitcher, but he should probably start next season at Triple-A in order to develop some more. Finally, Dane Dunning is another right-handed pitcher that has some potential to be a solid starting pitcher in the future for the White Sox. Dunning was a 1st round pick for the NationalsĀ in 2016 out of Florida. Dunning dominated in his first minor league season as he went 3-2 with a 2.02 ERA. Dunning doesn’t throw hard as his fastball maxes out at 95 MPH, yet he has outstanding control which helps make him a solid pitcher. He is still a couple of years away from reaching the MLB as he will likely spend all of next season in Single-A in the White Sox minor league system. The White Sox are clearly rebuilding right now, although the rebuilding process might not last long thanks to the talented prospects that they are acquiring. Adam Eaton is a quality player, but this trade is remarkable considering that they are getting 3 top prospects for Eaton.

Grade: A+