Washington Nationals: Ready to win World Series

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 01: Max Scherzer
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 01: Max Scherzer /

A top national magazine predicts the Washington Nationals winning the 2018 World Series. We thin his time they are right. Here is why.

The Washington Nationals are Sports Illustrated’s choice to win the World Series. (For the record, our site and SI share common ownership.)

The magazine predicts they will not only get over National League Divisional Series hump, but with the 2018 pennant and top the New York Yankees come October. Is this another crazy prediction from the folks with a famous cover jinx?

You can swear on a stack of swimsuit issues this one has merit.

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Yes, every team has flaws. Washington starts the season with a weak backup catcher and no clear fifth starter. They head north with a new manager and coaching staff that is untested in battle. Bryce Harper looms as a possible free agent. Distractions, injuries and uncertainty are factors.

The Nats are two-time defending NL East champions. They boast Max Scherzer, the 2016 and 2017 NL Cy Young award winner, every fifth day with Stephen Strasburg right behind. With Sean Doolittle as the closer, Washington finally has the stability at the back of the bullpen.

That is just the pitching.

A full season from Trea Turner and Adam Eaton? Yes, please. A healthy Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman? KaBOOM. Oh, Daniel Murphy and that Harper guy. You would take your chances.

Yes, Virginia, Maryland and DC, Washington’s championship ambitions are legitimate. Remember, with the constant injuries last year, the Nats won the division by a whopping 20 games. They start this year the overwhelming favorites to three-peat in the East.

However, getting to the playoffs is not enough. Are the Nats capable of beating those pesky Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs when it matters? Yes. What about the Yankees or Houston Astros? Why not?

Although this is not Washington’s last chance, this season is their best so far to get the job done. Early returns on Dave Martinez’s reign are positive. The Nats are aggressive running. This spring training focused on relaxing players for the grind ahead and not on a ticking clock.

Baseball seasons are marathons tucked into a roller coaster. Emotions get drained. Pot holes swallow cars. Players hyper-extend knees on wet bases. You cannot predict the twists and turns coming over the next seven months.

What you can do is prepare the best you can. By changing managers, general manager Mike Rizzo felt another way of thinking was needed.

Playoffs are lotteries. They do not measure the best team of the year, but the best team at that moment. Still, unlike Dusty Baker, Martinez is using a fully rested Tanner Roark in Game 5.

Next: Kendrick starts Opening Day

The Nats have done what they can to stack the odds in their favor. Time to play ball.