As part of a short series leading up to and through the opening week of the season, District on Deck writers will share their thoughts on several questions regarding the 2014 Washington Nationals. These are just the opinions of our staff, so feel free to voice your own in the comments below! Today we will start with Darlene Langley, one of our strongest contributors who has been writing for District on Deck since 2012.
What are your thoughts of the roster general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams have put together?
Who will be the best/most important player on the Nationals this season and why?
The most important position that has to produce this year is the Nats fifth starter in the rotation–whoever that will be. With Doug Fister on the 15 day DL, Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark should both get at least one start and we can see how they perform. The Nationals have to have good production from that rotation spot. Whether it be rotation spot four or five, the team cannot afford to send someone out there who at best will win less than half of their starts (for example Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson). If the team feels like the fifth starter has a chance of getting a win, they play better. It is as simple as that.
The single most important development for the Nats this year will be timely hitting. They already have a good rotation and good relievers. The thing at which the Nats hitters have consistently failed is getting men on base in to score. The one that personally drives me crazy is being unable to drive in the runner who is on third with less than two outs. It just takes a deep fly ball or a measly single. Instead the Nats hitters ground out, strike out, or pop out too shallow for the runner on third to tag up. Over and over and over again. This is something the hitting coach needs to work on with all the hitters on the team, because they are all guilty of not being able to get that run in. Yes, I know the opposing pitcher is trying to throw pitches that the hitter can’t lift. Nats hitters need to recognize that and figure out what to do with those pitches.
Any other thoughts on the 2014 Washington Nationals?
Finally, a note to all Nationals pitchers–do not ever, ever, ever walk the opposing pitcher. Ever. Throw three fastballs down the middle and be done with it. Every once in a while the opposing pitcher might connect for a hit. That is OK. Handing out a walk to a guy that hits .098 is not.