2016 O/U Wins (Westgate):
2016 NL East Odds (Westgate):
Projected Starting Rotation:
Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, Tanner Roark
Ian Desmond, Drew Storen, Yunel, Escobar, Denard Span
Ben Revere, Daniel Murphy, Stephen Drew
Handicapper’s Take: “No longer the obvious class of the division as they were heading into the 2015 campaign, Washington still has one of the better rosters in all of baseball. They look to be very explosive on paper with 1B Ryan Zimmerman and LF Jayson Werth reportedly healthy plus the addition of ex-Met Daniel Murphy. CF Ben Revere provides speed at the top of the lineup and if Murphy hits in the #2 hole the fuse could be lit early and often for the 3-4 combo of Bryce Harper and Zimmerman. Five through eight and the bench are formidable as well which should make life tough on opponents. Despite a slew of injuries last season, the Nationals were still able to finish 10th in MLB in runs scored.
The pitching imploded in the heat of the August race last season and for ace Max Scherzer in particular, redemption is in order. With Scherzer throwing in a contract year and fellow ace Stephen Strasburg, who pitched very well in the second half last season, leading the charge, this rotation again has a chance to be dominant. LH #3 Gio Gonzalez is solid but #4 Joe Ross (younger brother of San Diego’s Tyson Ross) who pitched well in spot duty last year is a key ingredient to this staff and could prove to be a real difference maker. The top four in this rotation are just a shade below the Mets and they can shield the bullpen from extensive use. The relief corps isn’t name recognizable to the average fan beyond RH closer Jonathan Papelbon. However the trio of RH Shawn Kelley, RH Trevor Gott and 25-year-old LH Felipe Rivero all have the strikeout as the main weapon in their arsenal which makes this entire foursome very capable.
The main concern for this team could be whether new manager Dusty Baker can properly handle his upper echelon starting rotation. Long known for burning through arms, it’s on Baker to take the goods he’s been given and make this work. Not sure the Nats eclipse 89.5 wins this season and they’re going to lay inflated prices in most instances but one solid approach would be to play Ross at a discounted price compared to his well established teammates.”
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