The Washington Nationals are heavy favorites to return to the postseason this year, but over 162 games, plenty of issues can arise.
The Washington Nationals will enter the 2018 season as the overwhelming favorites to win the division. Barring some of the top free agents unexpectedly signing with other NL East squads, there is a good chance the Nats will finish as the only above .500 team within the division for the second straight season.
Fangraphs released its projections for the upcoming season, which are subject to change after the free agents ink their contracts. Fangraphs sees the Nats winning 91 games in 2018, with New York as the next closest NL East team with 80 wins. That 11-game difference is tied with the AL Central for the largest projected divisional gap between first and second-place squads. (For what it’s worth, Fangraphs is fairly conservative with the projections. Last year, four teams won at least 97 games. They predict only the Astros will reach 97 wins this season.)
In Vegas, oddsmakers put the Nationals as +900 to win the World Series (fifth-best odds). The rest of the division is: Mets +2500, Braves +7500, Phillies +10000, and Marlins +10000.
But even though Washington should be playing in its third straight postseason by the end of the year, there is a reason they play the games. Let’s put on our doomsday cap for a bit, if only so we can see where the Nationals at least have the slightest cracks.
Here are five potential pitfalls to watch out for this season.