Sep 16, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals left fielderBryce Harper
(34, in hat) celebrates a victory against the Atlanta Braves with teammates at Turner Field. The Nationals defeated the Braves 3-0 to clinch the National League eastern division championship. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
It seems like yesterday that the Washington Nationals were walking off the field at AT&T Park after their disappointing season-ending loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLDS. Now, the Nationals are just a couple of weeks away from reporting to Spring Training as they begin their quest for redemption.
After a busy offseason, the Nationals will enter the 2015 season as popular favorites to win the World Series. But, as Nationals fans saw last year, that doesn’t mean anything.
For the Nationals to avoid a disappointing finish like last year’s, a lot of things have to go right. For one, the team has to stay healthy. Injuries have been the derailing factor for many teams that have entered the season with World Series expectations, and the team could easily fall victim to the same fate if its players can’t stay healthy.
More importantly, the Nationals have to be able to beat their divisional foes. With the one-game playoff Wild Card system, winning the division can go a long way in helping a team play deep into October.
Last year, the Nationals won the division by a whopping 17 games. It was a heated battle between Washington and Atlanta for most of the summer, but the Nationals eventually pulled ahead an ended up being the only team to finish with a winning record. Right now, the Nationals are set to enter 2015 as heavy favorites to win the NL East title – a title that they’ve won twice in the last three years.
Unfortunately for Washington, there are four other teams in the division that’ll set out to dethrone the Nats as the Kings of the East. Two teams–the Mets and the Marlins–are loaded with young talent and certainly have what it takes to challenge the Nationals for the title. The Braves and the Phillies are in different stages of rebuilding their ball clubs, but beating either team has never been easy for the Nationals.
Since beating these teams is key for the Nationals’ 2015 goals, it’s important to monitor what each of these teams is doing in the weeks leading up to Spring Training and as we get closer to Opening Day. To stay up to date with all the latest news from around the division, checkout these great NL East articles from around the FanSided Sports Network:
Tomahawk Take – Projection: Atlanta Braves Have No Shot in 2015
That Ball’s Outta Here – Yoan Moncada and the Phillies: Perfect Together
That Ball’s Outta Here – Ruben Amaro Officially on the Hot Seat
Marlin Maniac – Marlins Rumors: K-Rod on the radar?
Marlin Maniac – Mat Latos One and Done with Marlins?
New York Mets