Category Archives: Washington Nationals

POLL: Who is the Face of the Nationals?

Let us know in the poll below who you think the Face of the Nationals is for our Face of the MLB tournament.

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Rick Ankiel retires

Dan McLaughlin broke the news that pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel would retire from baseball on the St. Louis Cardinals broadcast, and would like to join the front office.

Ankiel pitched in the majors from 1999-2004, taking 2002 and 2003 off due to arm injuries.  He attempted to resume his pitching career once more in 2004, but was unsuccessful with recurring injuries.

In 2005, Ankiel returned to the majors for the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder, for whom he had played with from 1999-2004.  Ankiel spent his outfield years with the Cardinals, Royals, Braves, Nationals, Astros, and Mets, before finally calling it quits.

Ankiel had made a name for himself with a cannon of an arm from the outfielder, and finished his career with a fielding percentage of 97.9%.

As a pitcher, Ankiel had a career 3.90 ERA in 242 innings.  He had a decent 8.1 K/9 and 0.9 BB/9.

In his 11 year career, Ankiel had a .240/.302/.422 slash line with 76 hom runs in 2115 plate appearances spread out over 653 total games.

What will slow down the Nationals in 2014?

When you take a look at the Washington Nationals, the one thing that stands out is there fantastic starting pitching the rotation will be led by Stephen Strasburg followed by Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, the new-to-town Doug Fister, and either Tanner Roark or Ross Detwiler pitching 5th in the rotation. This rotation 1-4 looks super solid, and is easily one of the best in baseball, yet whoever is pitching 5th concerns me a bit. All-in-all, this rotation is solid.

In the bullpen there is some pretty nice depth. The Nats traded Oakland for Jerry Blevins, who will be a nice long reliever for Washington. The back end looks the same as last year with Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Rafael Soriano as the closer. The only thing I worry about are the middle relief guys like Craig Stammen, who had a solid 2013 but is still young and developing, and Christian Garcia who is turning 29 years old and barely has any major league experience. The Nationals are looking to use Garcia in a 6th or early relief role which concerns me due to his lack of experience but other than the middle of the pen the bullpen looks pretty solid as well. The problem I see with Washington is behind the plate, and at second base. The Nationals starting Catcher Wilson Ramos has battled many different injuries the past three years. In 2012, Ramos only played in 25 games. Ramos had a decent 2013 hitting 16 home runs and batting .272, yet he only played in 78 games. These power numbers came in the second half of the season as Ramos again battled injury and missed many games. Anthony Rendon will likely start the season at second base. Rendon played 98 games in his rookie season hitting .265 and hitting 7 homers, and driving in 35 runs. These numbers are not bad, yet Rendon has never had a full season at second base and will have to start everyday in his second season. The Nationals traded Steve Lombardozzi to the Tigers in the Doug Fister deal so it will be important for Rendon to have a nice season. The Nationals are a pretty solid team but there is at least one small issue at each position. The NL East should be even weaker than last year when Washington fell off track after their 98 win 2012 season. If Rendon and Ramos play well, the middle of the bullpen pulls together, and if  Washington finds a steady fifth starter, this Washington team should be more like the 2012 team. If not the Nats may be in a little trouble.

NL East Rundown

The NL East will be an interesting race this year to watch. Here’s my take on what will happen:

Division Champion: Nationals

Division MVP: Bryce Harper

Division CY Young winner: Jose Fernandez

Predictions:

1. Nationals (91-71)

2. Braves (89-73)

3. Marlins (80-82)

4. Mets (76-86)

5. Phillies (71-91)

Nationals:

I think they have real potential with young stars such as Stausburg and Harper leading the way. Veteran leadership will be key to a playoff run so watch for Zimmerman or another player to step into that role.

Braves:

They too, have great potential with a powerful offense. The Upton brothers along with Heyward and Uggla should keep them contending along with their pitching staff of Medlen leading the way along with their shut-down closer Kimbrel.

Marlins:

This may surprise some people but the Marlins might be a team in the next few years to contend with. This may not be the year but watch out for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez along with Giancarlo Stanton.

Mets:

Even without their star pitcher Matt Harvey for the majority of the season, the Mets have a decent starting rotation with rising star Zach Wheeler and Bartolo Colon. The Mets must hope that Colon can retain his 2013 success which included 18 wins with the A’s. They Mets lineup includes David Wright and newcomer Curtis Granderson.

Phillies:

The Phillies have potential if their players can stay healthy. Their pitching staff with Lee and Hamels  should carry them some if they can get run support. With an aging lineup, look to see the Phillies start the rebuilding process.

NL East Rundown

The NL East will be an interesting race this year to watch. Here’s my take on what will happen:

Division Champion: Nationals

Division MVP: Bryce Harper

Division CY Young winner: Jose Fernandez

Predictions:

1. Nationals (91-71)

2. Braves (89-73)

3. Marlins (80-82)

4. Mets (76-86)

5. Phillies (71-91)

Nationals:

I think they have real potential with young stars such as Stausburg and Harper leading the way. Veteran leadership will be key to a playoff run so watch for Zimmerman or another player to step into that role.

Braves:

They too, have great potential with a powerful offense. The Upton brothers along with Heyward and Uggla should keep them contending along with their pitching staff of Medlen leading the way along with their shut-down closer Kimbrel.

Marlins:

This may surprise some people but the Marlins might be a team in the next few years to contend with. This may not be the year but watch out for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez along with Giancarlo Stanton.

Mets:

Even without their star pitcher Matt Harvey for the majority of the season, the Mets have a decent starting rotation with rising star Zach Wheeler and Bartolo Colon. The Mets must hope that Colon can retain his 2013 success which included 18 wins with the A’s. They Mets lineup includes David Wright and newcomer Curtis Granderson.

Phillies:

The Phillies have potential if their players can stay healthy. Their pitching staff with Lee and Hamels  should carry them some if they can get run support. With an aging lineup, look to see the Phillies start the rebuilding process.