Phillies Opposition Roadblock: Washington Nationals
The Team: Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals. The team that what seems like yesterday was the pushover the Phillies dominated on a monthly basis. They were the team the Phils beat in 2007 and 2008 that last weekend to put them on top of the Mets in the division standings.
Now, they are simply the team. They are absolutely loaded. The offense is one of the absolute deepest in all of baseball. On opening day, the Nationals trotted out the following lineup against the Miami Marlins:
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SS, Trea Turner
CF, Adam Eaton
RF, Bryce Harper
2B, Daniel Murphy
1B, Ryan Zimmerman
LF, Jayson Werth
3B, Stephen Drew
C, Matt Wieters
There are stars throughout that entire lineup, and they were missing one of their best hitters, Anthony Rendon, who returned Wednesday night to the Washington lineup after battling a sore calf. While there are aging veterans throughout the roster, there are enough young bucks to balance it all out in the nation’s capital.
In the arms department, they are not what you would describe as “lacking.” We will get to Max Scherzer in a bit, but the other four, the oft-injured Stephen Strasburg, the erratic Gio Gonzalez, workhorse Tanner Roark, and young buck, Joe Ross will look to consistently hold off offenses on a nightly basis. The bullpen could get shaky at times, but it appears Blake Treinen will assume the closer role. After solid seasons out of the pen in 2016, Shawn Kelley and former Phil, Joe Blanton will be key components.
The Nationals are off to a solid start after winning of two of three from the Marlins, and are once again a media darling for an October push. They have not delivered yet, and I am unsure there is much time left for this group to achieve what they sought out to do at the beginning of their push.