2020 Washington Nationals Season Preview and Betting Picks

by Mark Daloisio | March 20, 2020 |

Washington (93-69) finished in 2nd place in the NL East 4 games back of 1st place Atlanta last season.  They were 7 games ahead of 3rd place New York, 12 games ahead of 4th place Philadelphia and 36 games ahead of last-place Miami. 

Washington received the first wildcard and played Milwaukee in the Wildcard game of the playoffs. They beat the Brewers 4-3 and moved on to play the Dodgers in the League Divisional Series and knocked them off 3 games to 2. 

From there they met St Louis in the League Championship Series and swept the seven-game series 4-0. On to the World Series where they knocked off the Houston Astros in seven games to win their first-ever World Series Championship.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

OF Victor Robles (Victor was supposed to get his shot in 2018 but an elbow injury cost him most of his season, so he had to wait until 2019 and it was worth it for Nats fans.  He hit .255 with 17 home runs & 65 rbi’s. He scored 86 runs and stole 28 bases. They know about his speed, the home runs were a bonus. With it being his first full season, look for him to get more comfortable at the plate.  If the surprising power continues, he is certainly a 20/20 candidate for years to come with his speed)

OF Adam Eaton (Adam may not have joined the 20/20 club, but he managed to do the 15/15 club when he hit a career-high 15 home runs last season and stole exactly 15 bases as well.  His batting average did drop to .279 and it is funny how that happens when one’s power numbers increase, but it does. He also drove in 49 runs & scored 103 runs last season.  Out of his 158 hits, he has 25 doubles & 7 triples showing some speed. Overall a solid season for Adam, one he would be happy to repeat)

SS Trea Turner (Trea had a great season considering he missed some games early in the year.  In fact, he played in 40 fewer games than in 2018 and came close to matching his stats of the previous season as he was one of the big reasons the Nats won the World Series led by his incredible speed.  Trea hit .298 with 19 home runs & 57 rbi’s with 96 runs scored and 35 stolen bases. He is without a doubt one of the most valuable players on this Washington team)

OF Juan Soto (Can you believe this kid was just 19 when he hit 22 home runs for the Nats in his first season while others were just a year removed from high school?  He followed that up last season by hitting .282 with 34 home runs & 110 rbi’s with 110 runs scored, 153 hits (32 doubles & 5 triples), walked 108 times and stoled 12 bases.  I don’t think this guy is going to make it. LOL. I am going to stop talking now and just wait and see what he does next. Washington is so lucky to have this guy)

2B Howie Kendrick (Howie is moving to 2B with the signing of Eric Thames who is taking over at 1B this season.  Say what you will but this 36-year old still knows how to hit the baseball and last year was proof he still has it.  He hit an incredible .344 with 17 home runs (one short of his career-high) & 62 rbi’s, scored 61 runs, had 115 hits and struck out just 49 times in 334 at-bats.  He even stole 2 bases. I love that he can still do what he does and hope he keeps on going)

1B Eric Thames (Eric drilled 31 homers in 2017 but struggled after having thumb surgery in 2018 as his average dropped to .219 while hitting just 16 home runs with just 37 rbi’s while playing just 96 games.  Having the offseason to heal, he bounced back nicely last season hitting .247 with 25 home runs & 61 rbi’s and scoring 67 runs in 149 games. He did not come all the way back, but Washington thought enough of him to sign him to a one-year contract and go from there)

C  Kurt Suzuki (Kurt the past three seasons has been making a late-career comeback of sorts.  It started in Atlanta two seasons ago and continued in Washington last year. I guess being on championship-caliber teams gets his blood flowing or something.  He only played in 85 games but that is not bad for the 36-year old. Last season he hit .264 with 17 home runs & 63 rbi’s. He scored just 37 runs but struck out only 36 times in 280 at-bats.  I was impressed and now he gets to try on his World Series Ring)

3B Carter Kieboom & Asdrubal Cabrera (A decision has not been made as of this writing.  They are leaning Kieboom but he has just 11 games at the major league level and hit just .128 but does have 2 homers.  The safer option is Cabrera who played just 38 games for Washington last season but hit 6 home runs and drove in 40 runs while hitting .323.  Texas had no luck trading him and just released him so Washington took a chance and signed him and it has worked out well. Now they have two options at third base)

STARTING PITCHERS

RHP Stephen Strasburg (Stephen was the healthiest he has been since 2014 when he started 34 games and pitched 215 innings.  As a result, he won the World Series MVP and set career-highs with 18 wins and 251 strikeouts. He ended up 18-6 with a 3.32 era and a 1.04 WHIP.  He allowed 161 hits in 209 innings pitched and struck out 251 men. Throw in his 5-0 record and 1.98 era, 0.94 WHIP in the postseason and that makes it extra special)

RHP Max Scherzer (Just as Strasburg was getting healthy, Max failed for the first time since 2012 to pitch 200 innings and made two trips on the IL list.  2019 was not one of his better seasons. Coming off of 20-7, 16-6 &18-7 seasons the past three years, 11-7 seems like a bummer. His era dropped to 2.92 but he still allowed just 144 hits in 172.1 innings pitched while striking out 243 batters and giving up just 18 home runs.  For those thinking Max is all of a sudden old, you would be wrong. Any team who kill to have this guy)

LHP Patrick Corbin (I would say Patrick thoroughly enjoyed his first season with Washington. After going 14-7 with a 3.25 era, striking out 238 batters in 202 innings and allowing just 169 hits and getting to pitch in the postseason for the first time and put a World Series ring on his finger…….he is probably still smiling.   He has only had two bad seasons in his career, I would say he is pretty reliable and a solid #3 or #4 pitcher)

RHP Anibal Sanchez (Like Corbin, Anibal came over to Washington and was a big contributor starting 30 games for the Nats going 11-8 with a 3.85 era.  His strikeout was down from previous seasons but he still allowed less than a hit per inning pitched. His home runs allowed were up nearly one per nine innings as he allowed 1.19 per 9 innings pitched last season.  He is not going to overwhelm anybody, but he gives you a chance two wins games especially with the Nats offense and just as important he will eat up a lot of innings for you)

RHP Joe Ross (The 5th spot in the rotation is really up in the air, but Joe seems to be the logical choice between three guys with limited experience and questionable talent at this point in their careers.  Joe only made three starts at the end of 2018 coming off of TJ surgery and last season in 27 appearances started just 9 games. He went 4-4 with no saves, a blown save and 2 holds with an era of 5.48.  He allowed 74 hits in 64 innings pitched and walked a whopping 33 men. This does not sound like a guy ready to be in the starting rotation, but it is a year later more time to heal)

CLOSER – LHP Sean Doolittle (Sean heads into the start of the season as the closer, but some believer Daniel Hudson should be the man.  Hudson was the closer come playoff time when he took over for Doolittle after getting injured during the season.  Sean went 6-5 with a 4.50 era and had 29 saves with 6 blown saves as well as 2 holds last year. The past four seasons he has averaged 25 saves per year.  That is not great but there are not many guys out there anymore that are racking up 40 saves a season. I would think it is his job to lose no matter what Hudson did during the playoffs last year)

I do not want to take any credit away from the Nationals for winning the World Series.  They got hot at the right time and found ways to win games when they needed to and Stephen Strasburg was insanely good all season long and during the postseason. 

I was stunned not only that they found a way to make the playoffs but do what they did. Hats off to them. Having said that, I think you know what direction I am going with this and if I am wrong I will be this first to come back on here and admit it next year.  No way they repeat what they did again in 2020.

No way they even win 90 games. They are not even making the playoffs. If they were as talented as most defending champs, defending the championship in sports is always difficult and I do not see it happening and I don’t even think it will be close.  I can see them falling all the way down to 86 wins. UNDER is my choice. You can play it or fade it.   

BETONLINE SEASON WIN TOTAL: 89½

Take UNDER 89½ wins

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