Coming off a franchise-first World Series the Washington Nationals saw a great deal of turnover, losing franchise cornerstone 3rd baseman Anthony Rendon among others to free agency. The team signed several sketchy part-time solutions for third while hoping that Rookie hotshot Carter Kieboom will eventually fill the job. Steven Strasburg was re-signed to a borderline insane contract and the team looks to have the best starting pitching in the league.Washington Nationals
- 2019 record 93-69, 2nd NL East, World Series Champions
- Manager: Dave Martinez
- General Manager: Mike Rizzo
- 873 runs scored 724 runs allowed
Washington Nationals Depth Chart: Infield
- 1B Eric Thames
- 1B Ryan Zimmerman
- 2B Starlin Castro
- 2B Howie Kendrick
- SS Trea Turner
- 3B Asdrubal Cabrera
- INF Wilmer Difo
- INF Carter Kieboom
The hole Rendon leaves in the lineup is noticeable here as so far the team brass maintain that Cabrera and Kendrick and Castro will serve at both 2nd and 3rd to start the year. Kieboom is a terrific prospect at just 22 years old. He played 2nd and short in the minors but will be tasked with eventually replacing Rendon at 3rd. He has a quick bat and a cannon arm but somewhat limited range and “hard” hands.
Eric Thames comes off a surprising rebound year in Milwaukee where he always hit for a good average but added back the power last season. Nobody expects this to continue but he should be OK as a platoon partner with franchise legend Ryan Zimmerman.
No one knows who will man 2nd on the regular as the club’s trio of past-their-prime acquisitions all have significant warts. I’m betting on Castro to take the job. Trea Turner is a born Brave’s killer who if healthy is one of the better shortstops in the league. He had offseason finger surgery to his throwing hand so watch for that as spring moves along.
Washington Nationals Depth Chart: Outfield
When Eaton is right this is the best unit in the national League. Fortunately for Braves fandom, Eaton has been mostly injured since joining the team. The leg injuries have robbed him of plus defensive ability and much of his base stealing speed but he remains a quality bat with excellent on-base skills.
Soto and Robles are the Notionals version of Ozzie and Ronald and I wish they were Braves. Scouts say Robles is still getting his feet wet in regards to power but that the potential is there for him to be a 30-homer guy perhaps as early as this year. Soto is an on-base machine with power. I say, “Just wait for Pache!” while drooling.
Taylor had a big babip-driven season a couple years ago but is just a 5th outfielder while Kendrick plays all over to keep his bat in the lineup.
Washington Nationals Depth Chart: Catchers
While they are getting up in years the tandem provides decent pop with occasionally brutal fielding. Gomes is a good framer: Suzuki is not. Something named “Raudy Read” is up next at AAA and is about average for being a backup at the position.
Washington Nationals Depth Chart: Starting Pitching
- RHP Max Scherzer
- RHP Stephen Strasburg
- LHP Patrick Corbin
- RHP Anibal Sanchez
- RHP Joe Ross
- AAA RHP Will Crowe
- AAA RHP Eric Fedde
The heart of the team. When Scherzer is right the team can beat anybody, anywhere, just ask the Astros. Strasburg had his long-awaited breakout last year and we shall see what effect a career-high 245.1 innings have, if any. Corbin did everything they asked and more and is the best #3 starter in baseball. Anibal is likely teaming up with Asdrubal Cabrera to take some elephants over the Alps and is also trying to stop time in its tracks. I still root for him. Joe Ross had a cr*ptastic season one year removed from arm surgery. He was very good before, although last year’s velocity drop is concerning. Fedde is a former 1st round pick who has never missed enough bats. Crowe is a former hotshot prospect who has undergone a longer than expected path to the majors as his strikeouts have largely evaporated. He gets a lot of grounders which is not a good thing when we project the team’s infield defense.
Washington Nationals Depth Chart: Bullpen
- LHP Sean Doolittle
- RHP Daniel Hudson
- RHP Will Harris
- RHP Tanner Rainey
- RHP Austin Voth
- RHP Hunter Strickland
- LHP Roenis Elias
- RHP Wander Suero
Flame on! Washington had one of the worst bullpens in the game in 2018 and through the first half of 2019. Bringing in Hudson and Elias and recalling Suero and Voth from AAA got them all the way up to “dreadful” on the season. In the postseason it was Hudson and Corbin and pray for rain or an earthquake or something. Doolittle probably reclaims the closer role from hudson with free agent signee Harris and Rainey as the set-up guys. I expect some churn on this list before the season begins.
Washington Nationals Prediction Time
I see a team that has very little depth should the stars get injured or perform poorly. Based on peak expectations I get an 89 win team but I cannot see everybody achieving 90th percentile so 85 is a reasonable guess. For a team I dislike they sure have a lot of players I really like.
Thanks for reading the 2020 NL East Preview on the Washington Nationals. If you enjoyed this piece, you might enjoy reading the Miami Marlins preview.