2010 MLB Season Preview: Washington Nationals

>> Saturday, March 13, 2010

The usual question, we have to ask ourselves about the Washington National is will they lose 100 games. However, this year things could be very different. By July, they should have a starting rotation featuring Stephen Strasburg and two time 19 game winner Chien-Ming Wang, a formidable lineup featuring Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, and Nyjer Morgan, if the defense can improve the question this year may be can the Nationals finish the year with a .500 record.

Speaking of that defense, in 2009 they committed 143 errors which was the most in baseball since 2004. It directly led them to give up 83 unearned runs, which was worst among all 30 MLB teams. Since they now have Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate the though is he can effectively slow down the opponents running game. On top of that switching Dunn from Left Field to first base should also help. This team still has big questions at second, and short.

The sooner Strasburg can get to the minors, the better. However, we must remember that he is still a pitcher who has never faced a major league hitter. By the start of summer, if everything goes right, he should be ready to move up to the big club. Nationals manager John Riggleman faced a similar situation with the Cubs in 1998 when he sent a young Kerry Wood down to the minors despite a strong showing in spring training.

The last question facing the Nationals is how much does Rodriguez have left in the tank. He is 38, and coming off his worst offensive season. He will likely share time behind home plate with 25 year old Jesus Flores. Flores was impressive in 2009, but was derailed by shoulder problems. The Nationals need Pudge to be solid, help fill for Flores as he recovers, and most of all be a solid club house guy, which has not been his strongest suit over his career.

Here's what I think the lineup may look like:

1. CF Nyjer Morgan
2. 2B Adam Kennedy
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam Dunn
5. LF Josh Willingham
6. RF Elijah Dukes
7. C Pudge Rodriguez
8. SS Cristian Guzman

SP: John Lannan
SP: Jason Marquis
SP: Scott Olsen
SP: Livan Hernandez
SP: J.D. Martin

CP: Matt Capps