Washington Nationals must avoid complacency

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07: Sean Doolittle
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07: Sean Doolittle /
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The Washington Nationals carry grand designs for this fall. However, they must earn their way to the playoffs before discussing how to keep players fresh.

Before the 2018 regular season begins, the Washington Nationals find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Stuck with the memories of playoffs past, the Nats head into this year trying to fix the problems of playoffs future, as if this was a tale penned by Charles Dickens. It is as if Scrooge… err… Washington forgot there is a season present needing attention.

With Jamal Collier of MLB.com reporting the Nats may shuffle bullpen arms to keep them fresh, have they forgotten how poorly it worked last year? Pitchers who bumble around in undefined positions struggle. If the “closers-by-committee” concept worked, every team would do it.

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Yes, the National League East is assumed easy. Everything is about October. We have told you that, so has other blogs and media, fellow fans and your cat. (Well, some cats focus more on naps.)

Truth is the record stands for the season at zero and zero. Nothing is clinched. Playoff tickets have no value. You know what happens when you assume? Victory parades in Philadelphia.

For Dave Martinez to ease in players, such as Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman, into the fray is fine. Baseball seasons are marathons. Cross-country slogs full of uncertainty.

But, among the chatter of positive thoughts and redefining how the team thinks leaks the smell of complacency.

Before lining up rotations and resting arms, you must get there first. Are the odds stacked in Washington’s favor? Yes. But those New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies hold the same blank record and they want the Nats spot in the standings.

If we find ourselves in a laugher race come August, then fine. Keep the arms fresh by using six starters and rotating lineups. The hard works is done and the finish in sight. But, getting cute beforehand, taking the foot off the throttle, never works. Ever.

Would you ever see a Washington Redskins quarterback in October rest one week playing the Cincinnati Bengals so he is fresher facing the Dallas Cowboys? Never.

This is not suggesting Sean Doolittle pitch six straight days or Ryan Madson toss 10 innings a week. You can kill a bullpen with overuse. No one is suggesting Daniel Murphy plays in all 162 or Matt Wieters needing 650 plate appearances.

But, the end of last season was a disaster. Players were not interested in milestones and played flat once the division was clinched. When the bell rang for the playoffs, the rust was obvious.

Next: Predicting the fate of 5 hopefuls

Fresher arms for October is an advantage, provided you are not watching on television like the rest of us.

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