The Washington Nationals fell to earth in 2020. The 2019 World Series winners went 26-34 last season. The club will hope to rebound from an ugly showing in 2020 and return to the playoffs this coming season.
Our MLB predictions say that the Nats have a good shot of bringing postseason baseball back to the District of Columbia. The team has plenty of players who will rebound, but there are a few departures of note to spot.
Reviewing the Offense
The Washington Nationals saw Juan Soto and Trea Turner make a run for the MVP title last year. Soto went .351 with thirteen home runs despite missing much of the season with an injury. Turner had a .335 average with twelve home runs and another twelve stolen bases.
But young stars Victor Robles and Carter Kieboom struggled to stay afloat last season, and Luis Garcia saw substantial growing pains. Adam Eaton also left for the Chicago White Sox, while Michael A. Taylor went off to the Kansas City Royals.
The Nationals’ goal on offense will be to have Turner and Soto as the offensive anchors while the others learn off of their work. Andrew Stevenson shows promise in the outfield, as he had a .366 average in his brief time last season.
The Washington Nationals have acquired 1B Josh Bell from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) December 24, 2020
The odds of Ryan Zimmerman returning are looking increasingly doubtful. The Nats have a strong emotional bond with him, as he is the last of the original team members from 2005. But he has shown diminishing returns the past few seasons. He did not play in last year’s campaign, so there’s a chance he will head out while on top.
Looking at Pitching
The starting trio of Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg has every intention to get back to speed in 2021. Strasburg missed most of last season with an injury, but the former World Series MVP will be ready when the season starts. Strasburg shows himself as a strikeout artist who could compete with Scherzer for the title this season.
Joe Ross skipped last season, and Erick Fedde showed some potential despite a few control issues. But the greatest worry comes from how the bullpen hasn’t performed very well. Tanner Rainey had a quality performance last year, netting a 2.66 ERA in twenty innings.
But Daniel Hudson might have pitched his way out of the closing spot with an ERA of about 6.00. Wander Suero did look strong in his second full season with the Nats, but how he will compete in 2021 remains unclear.
Where Will the Nationals Finish in Their Division?
The Washington Nationals don’t have many places to go but up in 2021. We predict the Nationals will finish in second place in the NL East. The Atlanta Braves will remain the kings of the division, but the Nats will stay competitive against them. They will also hold off a New York Mets team in a resurgence.
How Far Can the Nationals Go in the Playoffs?
We have the Washington Nationals winning the wild card series in our MLB predictions. But they will exit in the first round. The team will slip out of the playoffs in the first round once again, but this time it will be in a season where the Nationals show significant improvement.
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Image by: Lorie Shaull