Washington Nationals: Four players who need to bounce back in 2019

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ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 01: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals looks at his injured hand before leaves the game with an injury during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 01: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals looks at his injured hand before leaves the game with an injury during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on June 1, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Stephen Strasburg

The performance of Stephen Strasburg was one of the biggest reasons the Washington Nationals rotation regressed so significantly last season. If he can return to his old self in 2019, then it could make a huge difference in the team’s quest to win the NL East once again.

After a strong 2017 in which he finished with a 15-4 record and 2.52 ERA while placing third in NL Cy Young voting, there were high expectations in 2018. Contributor Ross Shinberg even predicted Strasburg going one step further and taking home the top pitcher award last year.

However, he suffered an injury-plagued year, but even when he was healthy, he didn’t always have things go his way. He had an underwhelming 10-7 record and 3.74 ERA as he was prone to the home run ball, allowing a career-high 1.2 HR/9.

Perhaps slightly worryingly, Strasburg suffered a dip in velocity towards the end of the year. However, the righty expects to be back at full strength for 2019, which makes him the most obvious candidate for a resurgence next season.

If he can get closer to his 2017 levels, then it will give the Nats one of the most dominant 1-2-3 starter combos in all of baseball, with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin flanking him. That would not only bode well for the grueling regular season, but also for the postseason where that triplet would give them a huge advantage over any opponent.

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