Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: Seattle Mariners

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Hunter Strickland #60 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Houston Astros of a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 23, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Hunter Strickland #60 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Houston Astros of a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on February 23, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Mariners haven’t reached the playoffs since 2001. Now they have a restocked farm system. Is hope on the horizon?

The Rundown

The Mariners decided to tear everything down after missing the playoffs once again in 2018. They went from 89 wins in 2018 to 68 wins in 2019. Despite going back in the opposite direction, the front office was able to restock a barren farm system. Seattle fans have been patient as they haven’t seen the playoffs since 2001 and are hoping the new batch of prospects can finally get the team back to the promise land.

While the Mariners will be at the bottom of the AL West in 2020, all eyes should be on the farm system. Prospects Justin Dunn, Evan White, Justus Sheffield, and Jake Fraley all have a chance to break camp with the Mariners.  With the departure of longtime Ace, King Felix Hernandez the starting rotation has some openings. Top pitching prospect Dunn looks to join Sheffield in the rotation. Dunn was acquired in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz blockbuster. Last season at Double A, Dunn went 9-5, with a 3.55 ERA and 158 strikeouts, while holding opposing hitters to a .236 average. Sheffield struggled in his first taste of the majors with the Mariners last season. In 36 innings, he went 0-1, with a 5.5.0 ERA, and 37 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit .303, with an OPS of .881 against him. Mariners fans should not be alarmed just yet. Sheffield is only 23 years old and has an impressive resume of pitches. Expect the lefty to improve in his first full season in the majors.

Seattle Mariners 2019 record: 68-94

Washington’s record vs. Seattle last season: Didn’t play each other

Seattle added/resigned: Taijuan Walker, Sam Haggerty,

Seattle lost: Felix Hernandez, Domingo Santana, Tommy Milone, Wade LeBlanc,

Nationals to Watch

Last season in an attempt to bolster the bullpen, Washington acquired Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elias from the Mariners. Both battled injuries and struggled in D.C. Entering 2020, Elias and Strickland are looking to bounce back from  their respective injuries and help revamp the bullpen.

Strickland is coming off the worst year of his career, in which he posted a 5.55 ERA, and a FIP of 6.30. Despite his disastrous 2019 season, Strickland has a career ERA of 3.16 and a career FIP of 3.64. With the back-end of the bullpen in place, Strickland will be leaned on to bridge the gap from the starter to Daniel Hudson/Will Harris/Sean Doolittle. Keep an eye on Strickland’s K/9 as it has decreased over the last few years. With the way the National bullpen imploded last season, it will be essential Strickland as well as Elias can bounce back and preserve leads. If given the ball, this will be Strickland’s first time facing the majority of the Mariners lineup.

2020 Series Breakdown

April 13-14 @ Seattle

May 19-20 @ Seattle

The Mariners won 68 games last season and didn’t do anything to improve. Washington will overwhelm them with their talent.

Prediction: Nats win the series 3-1

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