Will the Nationals Go Over or Under their Win Total This Season?

I talked about the Nationals win total back in December when the betting lines released. Oddsmakers initially showed Washington some respect after an over-performing 2023 season, but their win total has dropped from o/u 68 to o/u 66.5 (on Caesars). This line movement isn’t a great sign for Washington…

Feb 24, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez (4) and Keibert Ruiz
Feb 24, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez (4) and Keibert Ruiz / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals were projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball last season. They ended up winning 71 games, and with that roster, that’s a win. Unfortunately for Nats fans, the team didn’t really do much this offseason to improve the ball-club. That’s probably why their win total projection for this upcoming year is lower than their 71 wins from last season. 

There’s a lot of hype surrounding many of the Nationals top prospects this spring. James Wood, Dylan Crews, Brady House and Robert Hassell have all shown flashes of their elite potential, but Nats fans need to realize that there’s no rush for these young studs to get called up. With the Lerners reassuring their commitment to the team, we can assume that they aren’t going to make any serious moves in free agency until these prospects are ready. 

With Mike Rizzo and the Lerners laying-low in free agency, we are stuck with a few veteran “prove-it” deals to solidify the lineup until the likes of James Wood and Dylan Crews are ready. Joey Gallo injects some much-needed power into this lineup, but I doubt he significantly changes the trajectory of this team. If Washington is going to go over their win total, their young core is going to have to exceed expectations for a second straight year. 

There’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time to be a Nationals fan with all the prospects performing great down in West Palm Beach, but this team is still a couple of years away from greatness. CJ Abrams improved as the 2023 season progressed, but we saw Lane Thomas struggle down the stretch. They are going to have to carry this lineup at the top of the order all season, but are the Nationals going to be able to rely on these two inconsistent pieces? That’s a lot to ask…

Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore showed flashed of greatness last season, but will they be able to carry this rotation on their own? The back-end of the Nats rotation is one of the worst on paper in baseball. With Cade Cavalli likely to miss extended time, Washington is going to need some big innings out of Jake Irvin, Patrick Corbin and Trevor Williams. In a loaded NL East, I don’t see this playing out in the Nationals favor. 

There’s a reason the Nationals win total is dropping. Respected bettors have already locked in the under, driving their win total down. This team was one of the best ATS (against the spread) in baseball last season. They had a surprisingly good record in one-run games, finding ways to win down the stretch even with a bottom-five bullpen ERA. I’d be surprised if the Nationals end up having the same luck this season with an even better NL East to compete against. 

With the current Nationals rotation and projected Opening Day bullpen, I don’t see this team having as much success as they did in the 2023 season. To put it plainly, the Nationals had luck on their side last year, especially in high-scoring one-run games. Until management brings in some better arms in the back of the rotation and bullpen, they are going to have to rely once again on their young talent at the plate to carry this team. I just don’t see them getting close to 70 wins, especially with the Phillies and Braves finding ways to improve even more. 

Fade the Nationals on their win total for this upcoming season. There are better days again for this organization, but until their young stars get called up, I don’t see this team improving. If anything, expect them to take a step back in 2024 before James Wood, Dylan Crews and the rest of the Nationals highly-touted prospects get the call. We’ll take the money we make fading the Nationals this year and put it on a James Wood ROTY future for the 2025 season.