Washington’s roster is fairly straightforward as we approach Opening day. The Nats have a killer lineup, a top-heavy, but talented rotation, and a solid bullpen.
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The Cubs and Dodgers are clearly formidable threats, and will probably enter the season with better World Series odds than Washington. I expect the Cubs to be quite good again as they move past last year’s championship hangover, though their record could be worse than the Nats because of a tough NL Central.
I am (slightly) less bullish on the Dodgers, who have an injury prone rotation and a less established group of stars in the field. Los Angeles will still surely be one of the final teams standing, but it could be a bumpier path to the playoffs than for other upper-echelon teams.
As for the best of the rest, I like what Milwaukee has done with the moves for Yelich and Cain, though the Brewers still appear to be a pitcher away from being a real threat. If Jimmy Nelson returns at full strength this summer, Milwaukee may have a Wild Card team on its hands. St. Louis could also be a surprise contender after the Ozuna heist, but the Cards also have real questions among their starting pitchers after Carlos Martinez.
In the NL West, with a marginally better San Diego club following the Hosmer signing, as well as the juggernaut Dodgers, the NL West could be the best top-to-bottom division in baseball this year. There fight between Arizona, Colorado, and San Francisco should be a bloodbath as they attempt to claw their way back to the postseason.
For now, Washington can stay above the fray. If they stay focused, the Nationals could grab the top seed in the National League.
Statistics and projections courtesy of Fangraphs.