Leading up to the start of the 2010 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Washington Nationals. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
People who follow the Nationals might want to talk about their formidable lineup featuring Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman and Nyjer Morgan; or their solid rotation that added 19-game winner in Chien-Ming Wang. But the real story of the 2010 Washington Nationals is when the franchise, Stephen Strasburg (pictured above) will arrive on the scene.
Strasburg was sent to AA out of spring training. He did show some impressive tools in spring action, making hitters like Miguel Cabrera look silly in one at-bat scenarios.
The Nationals also made a nice veteran addition to work hand-in-hand with their young ace #1 pick in Pudge Rodriguez. Pudge is now 38 years old and might not have a lot left in the tank, but on the 110 days he’s in the lineup, it will give Nationals fans the opportunity to watch a future Hall of Famer in action.
The Nationals have a recognizable group of veterans in Christian Guzman, Josh Willingham, and Adam Kennedy rounding out the lineup; but just because they’re recognizable doesn’t equal production. This is a team who needs to be built around pitching due to the park they play in. Offense will come at a premium for this Nationals team and while Adam Dunn will make his annual run at 40 and 100, the rest of the lineup might struggle to score runs.
That will leave a heavy load for the starting pitching staff to bear.
Aside from Wang, John Lannan, Shairon Martis, Jason Marquis and Scott Olsen make up the starting rotation with Strasburg waiting to take the reigns as soon as a man falters.
Matt Capps will be the closer with Brian Bruney setting him up on most nights. Sean Burnett, Jason Bergman, and the ageless Eddie Guardado join them in the bullpen.
This team figures to be about as entertaining live as they are on paper; there aren’t a lot of reasons for fans to venture out to the park and watch them play. That’s what makes the arrival of Strasburg paramount for baseball in Washington. It will be a league-wide story each time he pitches this season, and it would be good for baseball if he could have a nice debut as a rookie.
The Nationals are entrenched in a tough division and it’s going to be another long year. It would be a great surprise for them to finish .500, with every other team in the division figuring to have a realistic opportunity to do so.