Washington Nationals 2011—80-81 Key Additions--- Edwin Jackson, Brad Lidge, Gio Gonzalez Key Losses-------None Lineup---This lineup remains virtually intact from what they had last year, when if it wasn’t for a cancelled game they may have finished at .500. They signed Jayson Werth, which was by all accounts a bad signing, but you have to think he is going to have somewhat of a bounce back year. Roger Bernadina will be given the full time job in center, more for his defense than anything. Michael Morse could be a big key to this offense. If he can duplicate his .303 average and 31 HR, that will go a long way to help this offense. The infield is once again flanked by Ryan Zimmerman. Health will be the key, as he will be a huge factor in this lineup. As for the rest of the infield they are all light hitting, which will limit the total potential of this lineup. Wilson Ramos has the potential to be a nice bat, but the jury is still out on him. All in all, although they really didn’t do anything to improve this offense, with a full season of Ryan Zimmerman as well as a bounce back year from Werth, I would expect this offense to be improved. Pitching---As little as they did to improve their offense, the pitching staff is a different story. Realistically, you could sit back and say that they have 4 new and better starters than what they had a year ago. The return of Stephen Strasburg will be exciting not only for the Nationals fan base but also for all of baseball. The hope is he will return stronger to lead this rotation. Going out and getting Gio Gonzalez is a very solid contribution. Even if he is just an average pitcher, the innings he will provide will be a key to this rotation. Same can be said for Edwin Jackson. I know he wanted a long term deal, but took a 1 year deal to prove worth and value going into next year. He will provide stability and innings as well. The big key to this rotation may just be Jordan Zimmerman. He has the ability to be a frond end starter, and going along with the other 3 makes up a very solid front 4. The bullpen appears to have taken a hit with Drew Storen likely starting the year on the DL. However, this appears to be a short term injury. In the meantime they have some options with Brad Lidge and Tyler Clippard. But ultimately this bullpen may rely on the ability of the staff to get through a lot of innings. Outlook---Before I begin my research on this team, I honestly was not in the mindset that this team was ready to be a contender. But after this preview, I really like what they did. When you look at some of the other teams, the time is now for this team to win. Although they may still be a year removed as Zimmerman tries to establish himself and Strasburg battles back from injury, this is definitely a team with a plan. Things are looking up in Washington, and fans should be excited for the future.
read more: 2012 MLB Team Preview: Washington Nationals