Washington Nationals 2019 Season Preview
2018 Record: 82 – 80
Projected 2019 Record: 90 – 72
2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook
The Washington Nationals didn’t exactly seem like their normal selves in 2018. Maybe that was because they played the entire 2018 season knowing that they would likely lose their star, Bryce Harper, during the following offseason. And they did as Harper recently signed a record contract with the Phillies.
Some positives of 2018 are that Max Scherzer once again dominated and the team proved that, even without Harper, they will have enough offense to push them towards an NL East win. However, it was clear that defensive struggles brought the team down and Harper was rather underwhelming in his final season in DC.
Coming into 2019, the Nationals are going to have to revamp their defense and find a way to fill the void Harper leaves if they are to have a shot at the top of the NL East, pennant, and world series.
Despite the loss of Harper, the hopes of Nationals fans will surely remain high. Critics are excited to see how new National Patrick Corbin will fare in his first season in the capital. His addition strengths a pitching rotation that already has lots of depth and versatility. Brain Dozier and Anibal Sanchez are two other acquisitions that will likely play significant roles in the lineup and rotation. Will the Nats win their first ever NL pennant in 2019? It certainly isn’t out of the question.
2019 Starting Pitchers
One of the few obvious fortes this team boasts is their starting pitching. Year-in and year-out the pitching staff posts some of the best numbers in the MLB across all categories.
These numbers start first and foremost with Max Scherzer. This guy is the real deal: he’s arguably the best pitcher currently in the major league and he shows no signs of slowing down. Since joining the Nationals in 2015, he’s played 4 seasons and hasn’t posted an ERA greater than 2.96. Now that’s some nasty stuff. He went 18 – 7 with a 2.53 ERA in 2018, including yet another all-star game start.
Patrick Corbin comes over to the Nats from Arizona following what was the best year of his career. In 2018, Corbin went 11 – 7 with an ERA of 3.15 and a WHIP of just over 1.00.
Stephen Strasburg has pitched his entire career with the Nats and consistently turns in solid numbers. However, he seems to often be plagued with injury. Questions surrounding his durability will loom as the 2019 season kicks into gear.
Rounding off the starting pitching will be new National Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson. Sanchez has had up and down numbers throughout his career but turned in a solid 2018 going 7 – 6 with an ERA of 2.83. The same can be said for Hellickson. He went 5 -3 with a 3.45 ERA in his first season with the Nats last year.
2019 Relief Pitchers
The Washington relief core looks stronger than ever coming into the 2019 season. That starts with Sean Doolittle, the teams fiery closer. Doolittle turned in a good 2019: he was 25/26 in saves and kept his ERA low at 1.60. His WHIP was also an incredible 0.60.
The Nationals will be bringing in another elite closer in 2019: Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but will look to return to his 2015 form, when he saved a whopping 48 games in 51 attempts.
And if these two monsters aren’t already enough, relievers such as Kyle Barraclough and Justin Miller have shown that they also have mid-to-late inning stuff. They can hold down games, preserve the lead, and even close when necessary.
Overall, the Nationals pen seems versatile in terms of age, skill, and overall ability. Hopefully they will fare well against a strengthened NL East division.
The Nationals’ batting obviously raises the most questions coming into 2019. I mean, replacing Bryce Harper is no easy task. But the hitting staff believes that the Nats will not need to replace the slugger if the members of their current lineup can each step up a bit more offensively.
This will surely start with veteran national Ryan Zimmerman. He will be playing his 15th MLB season in 2019, all of which he has played with the Nats. And while he didn’t play all of 2018, he continues to provide power at the heart of the lineup.
Another important power source will be Anthony Rendon. Rendon will consistently hit 25 homeruns and knock in 100 RBIs as long as he can remain healthy. If he can find a way to add to those numbers even slightly, it will go a long way in filling the offensive hole left by Harper.
Adam Eaton and Trea Turner will likely be looking to get on base at the top of the lineup. Turner played all 162 games last season and finished with decent numbers. Most importantly he showed that he can hit for both contact and power. Eaton is yet to have played a full season with the Nats. He’s been sidelined due to various injuries over the last two seasons.
Washington fans should also be excited to see how new Nats Brian Dozier and Yan Gomes fare.
All in all, the Nationals lineup will continue to have depth and versatility despite the loss of its main slugger. Fans shouldn’t be too worried about Harper’s departure.
Projected Starting Lineup
Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers
Max Scherzer – You have to go back to 2012 where Max Scherzer did not pitch more than 200 innings. The man is a freak, and he is going to bring you freakish stats as well. He is going to be one of the first pitchers off the board in drafts, and even at an older age that doesn’t matter. He cracked 300 strikeouts last season, and is projected for over 250 again. With no signs of decline in sight, draft with confidence.
Patrick Corbin – Patrick Corbin bounced back to near ace status last season, and that slider worked wonders. He is a slider happy pitcher, and the strikeouts followed. His slider is too good to ignore, even if he averages 2017 and 2018, he is going to post strong numbers. Pitching in Washington isn’t going to shift his value too much.
Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters
Trea Turner – We got a full season of Trea Turner in 2018, and he failed to top his 2017 stolen bases totals despite playing 50 less games. He still had 43, and is an elite base stealer. He also hit 19 HR and had 103 runs. He is going to run freely, and have a chance to surpass 100 runs yet again. He is in a very good offense, and contributes across the board at a top heavy position.
Juan Soto – Juan Soto was uber impressive last season, sporting a 16% walk rate, and a 146 wRC+. He also had 22 HR in 494 PA. Soto is now the guy in Washington, and will be thrown into the middle of the lineup yet again. He is an OF at this rate, even with a small major league sample size.