2020 MLB Preview: Washington Nationals
Will There Be Enough Of Everything To Replace Rendon?
It’s gonna be fun watching Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman duke it out over the next five years. Soto is a generational talent who can make Nationals fans forget departed third baseman Anthony Rendon. OK. They won’t forget him. He did lead them to a World Series. But they might not be pining for him like the girl who dumped them either. Along with Soto you have infielders Trea Turner, Howie Kendrick and Asdrubal Cabrera. Kendrick is a defensive liability. Fortunately for Washington he will be in the lineup every day because pitchers aren’t hitting this year.
Everyone will talk about Max Scherzer and the health of Stephen Strasburg. Who they should be talking about is Austin Voth who allowed only 1.05 base runners per inning last year in nine games. If he’s the real deal he could be rookie of the year and the best fourth starter in the league. Patrick Corbin is as good as a number-three starter as it gets. He gives them 200 innings, 200-plus strikeouts and a guy who battles to win every pitch. I love watching this guy compete. Erick Fedde gives them a fedth starter or a long reliever. Annibal Sanchez was awful with Detroit before a stint in Atlanta turned his career around. He’s had two good seasons since. He’s also a possible fifth starter but could end up in the bullpen pretty quickly.
Where they’ll miss Rendon most is when runners are in scoring position. He hit .365 last year in those circumstances. That’s worth some wins. Soto will make up for a lot but not all. If Voth comes through they have one of the best top-four pitching rotations in the league, assuming Strasburg doesn’t back up a terrific 2019 with more injuries in 2020. I also worry about Sean Doolittle as the closer. At least Fernando Rodney has taken his sideways hat and 4.05 ERA elsewhere. Combined it’s a win for baseball uniforms in the nation’s capital and 93 wins for a full season.
Coronavirus 60-game prediction: 32-28.
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