Sep 18, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span (2) reacts after getting a base hit in the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Spring Training is two weeks away for the Washington Nationals and it is about that time to be making some early predictions for the 2014 season. That is what I am going to do today. Are the Nationals the favorites to win the National League East? I believe so and here’s why.
The Nationals have a stellar lineup all the way from Denard Span at the top to Anthony Rendon at the bottom. If Denard Span can build off the end of 2014, he has a chance to be great in D.C. To go along with those two you have Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmermann, and Ian Desmond. The middle of the order has some pop, plus speed on the base paths.
The pitching staff has also gotten better this offseason. The additions of Doug Fister and Jerry Blevins will help out a lot when it comes to the postseason. Both have experience in October and that only helps when it comes to that time of the year.
The Nationals have gotten better while the Braves have gotten worse in my opinion. They have lost a power bat in Brian McCann to the New York Yankees and veteran leader Tim Hudson to the San Francisco Giants. That might not seem like such a big loss with all of the power they possibly have and young pitching, but it could come back to hurt them down the stretch.
The pitching staff is a year older, but they have still yet to fill the role of established “ace”. I will use that word even though I hate too. They are also banking on good seasons from Dan Uggla and B.J Upton. They can’t get much worse, but how much better will they be.
The Miami Marlins have gotten better, but let’s be honest they will still end up under five hundred when it is all set and done.
Then last but not least the Philadelphia Phillies who have somehow gotten worse this offseason. They have made one move in getting Marlon Byrd, who is past his prime and will be trade bait by the deadline. All of their major players are older, and the offense may struggle a bit. They could end up ahead of the Marlins at seasons end but I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished last in the East in 2014.
All of that being said, do the Nationals come out on top in 2014? I believe so. They have to be the favorites after the moves they have made to bolster the pitching staff and the bench. I have yet to mention Nate McLouth, but he will be a key piece of the puzzle throughout the season. The Nationals have gotten significantly better, while the Braves got worse. The favorites for the National League East have to be the Washington Nationals.