2013 MLB Team Preview: Washington Nationals
The Nationals won a league high 98 games en route to their first division title since they ceased to be the Montreal Expos. Stockpiling all those draft picks finally paid off for the Nats in 2012. Led by young stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nationals should be a force for many years to come in the National League East.
The rotation in Washington is fearsome. Gio Gonzalez, Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Detweiler may be the best starting five in all of Major League Baseball. With Jordan Walden and Drew Storen setting up closer Rafael Soriano, it’s hard to tell where opposing teams will scratch out their runs.
Veterans Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman will provide leadership to this young lineup. Harper is joined by rising 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa and shortstop Ian Desmond. Bryce Harper is the true focus of the lineup. A true 5 tool athlete, Harper has the ability to put up MVP numbers for years to come. Look for him to take another step forward in 2013.
Newly acquired Denard Span will patrol centerfield in between Harper and Werth. Coming over in a trade from Minnesota, Span will provide speed and a decent on base percentage at the top of the Nationals lineup.
The big story of 2012 was Stephen Strasburg and the team-imposed innings cap. After being shut down in early September, the Nationals struggled in the playoffs without him. Now Strasburg will be set free in 2013. Combine him with Gio Gonzalez and newly signed Dan Haren, and the Nationals have a rotation to be feared in the playoffs.
Drew Storen was all set to resume the closers role in 2013, even after his collapse in game 5 of the NLDS. Unfortunately for Storen, the Nationals signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano this offseason. This moves Storen to the setup role, but gives the Nationals two elite late inning relievers.
With a young and impressive team both at the plate and on the mound, the Washington Nationals should continue to be a force in the NL East for years to come. Strasburg and Harper figure to be perennial all-stars for the Nationals for the next decade. They will go on to win another divisional title in 2013. 95 wins and a 1st place finish in the NL East are in store for the Washington Nationals.
- The 7 Most Important Washington Nationals Story Lines to Follow (bleacherreport.com)
- 13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #1 (curlyw.mlblogs.com)