District On Deck Writers Answer Four Questions Before Spring Training

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros with a score of 6 to 2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals celebrates in the locker room after defeating the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros with a score of 6 to 2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 29: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Has the team done enough to compete in 2021?

James: What are we looking at competing for, the division title, or a wild card berth? As evidenced in 2019, all a team needs is a seat at the table to win the whole thing. That being said, yes, I do believe the team will be competitive this year.

One of the strengths of the team will be the starting rotation. A healthy Stephen Strasburg and a determined Max Scherzer (in a walk year), are a force to reckon with at the front end of the rotation. Adding Brad Hand to the bullpen was a great move and will help define roles moving forward.

The additions of Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber will mean more home run balls flying out of Nationals Park. I do not believe a move at third base is needed, though I would not be surprised if one is made. At this point, the Nats have made enough moves to make themselves a feared opponent on the schedule during the 2021 season.

Ben: Go get another big bat to pencil in at third and I think this team has what it takes to compete in the very competitive National League. With a rotation led by Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin, the Nats should be feeling pretty good about themselves going into 2021.

Max: The NL East is arguably the most competitive division in the league. Atlanta is the team to beat, while the Mets went and traded for Francisco Lindor. The Phillies hired Dave Dombrowski to be the team’s new president and were able to re-sign J.T. Realmuto. Miami is ahead of schedule and last year they made the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Washington’s hopes for competing in 2021 relies on the starting rotation bouncing back. Stephen Strasburg is returning from season-ending surgery, while Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin struggled in 2020. Joe Ross is back after opting out of the 2020 season and veteran Jon Lester was brought in to be the team’s new fourth starter. More of a name at this point in his career, Lester is still an innings eater. The team will only go as far as their rotation will carry them.

Rizzo’s biggest acquisitions in Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber will need to provide the pop that has been missing from the lineup. Both had monster seasons in 2019 but struggled in 2020. They join Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Victo Robles in the lineup that has seen plenty of changes over the last few seasons. Washington has completely revamped the bullpen and it finally appears to be a strength.

The NL East will once again be a battlefield and with a vastly improved San Diego Padres team, the Wild Card race will also be very challenging. Washington has a chance to compete, but everything will need to go perfectly for that to happen.

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