When all’s said and done, the Washington Nationals will outlast the Mets and finally repeat as NL Eastern Division Champions.
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Unlike last year, this will be a year-long battle with a healthier Mets squad and an Atlanta Braves team that will not be the pushover of 2016. The players understand the pressure on them after falling short in 2016 and play hard under Dusty Baker. They avoid playing in the Wild Card Game.
As with last year, they draw the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, but do not get home field. With a healthy Scherzer and Strasburg pitching in LA, they finish the series off at home in four, advancing to the NL Championship Series for the first time in DC.
Unfortunately, they run into the Chicago Cubs and grind a long series that falls short at Wrigley Field in six. Although disappointed, they know what the missing piece is and land it for a longer run in 2018.
With luck, and a shrewd trade or two, they could get past the Cubs and win the pennant. With questions at closer and catcher to start the year, they are not at Chicago’s level. At least, yet.
In the end, we will feel better about the season to come than the year finished.