Washington Nationals: Staff predictions for 2018

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Bryce Harper
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Bryce Harper /
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Brian Foley, Staff Writer

Record: 94-68

Division: 1st in NL East

Postseason: Lose in NLDS

Despite the Phillies offseason moves, the Nationals should still roll through the division fairly easily. The Nats have a quality bullpen and a stable of offensive options. Philadelphia has talent, but also plenty of question marks, and the rest of the NL East squads range from mediocre to awful.

Injury issues surrounding Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy are certainly something to monitor, but the Nationals have enough depth to paper over their absences for portions of the regular season. The poor rotation depth only really becomes an issue if one of the top four starters suffers a major injury.

A fifth NL East title in seven years is no small feat, but another NLDS loss will crush an already fatalistic fan base. The Nationals’ ceiling is as high as any team in baseball; let’s see if they can drag themselves over the hump when it matters most.

Out-of-the-box Prediction: Trea Turner steals 70 bases

Davey Martinez’s approach to the running game is one of several subplots to watch this season. While the Nats finished fourth in baseball in steals during Dusty Baker’s two-year stint, Martinez’s old club was relatively stationary under Joe Maddon.

Still, if Martinez knows what’s best, he’ll give Turner a flashing green light, even if he hits in front of Bryce Harper. Turner played shortened seasons in 2016 and 2017, but both times, he was on pace to steal at least 73 bases. Only three players have swiped 70 bags this century; Martinez should unleash one of his team’s unique talents.

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