Ranking Phillies opponents in National League East
No. 1: Washington Nationals
Ultimately, the Nationals remain the most fearsome team in the NL East even with Bryce Harper moving up I-95 to Philadelphia. They were decimated by injuries last year but remain a threat even after losing Harper. Still, that hasn’t stopped them from worrying about the coming invasion of Phillies fans, instead of, you know, actually buying tickets to see their own team.
The Nationals are the only team that whose rotation can stack up with the Mets. Max Scherzer didn’t win his third straight Cy Young, but remains a favorite to win the award every year even as he climbs into his 30s. Stephen Strasburg, when healthy, is a formidable No. 2. They dished out the first large contract of the offseason to Patrick Corbin, hoping he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder in 2018. The Nationals are confident in Anibal Sanchez and Jeremy Hellickson as their fourth and fifth starters, and they certainly could do worse.
Washington’s lineup is still quite potent. Anthony Rendon has been one of the best hitters in baseball the last two years but rarely receives any fanfare. Trea Turner and Juan Soto are two young studs the Nationals will lean on for their long-term plans. Victor Robles is one of the top prospects in baseball and will get the chance to show why this season.
The bullpen is the only real question mark on Washington’s roster. Sean Doolittle, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough, and Tony Sipp should see the most work. However, if they have to go any deeper than that, things may get hairy. They are hoping their strong rotation will minimize usage of the bullpen.
If the Nationals remain healthy this year, they will definitely be in the conversation for the NL East title. It will be an internecine battle for the top spot in the division, which will likely keep the teams close all season long. If nothing else, it will be one of the more fun divisions to follow in the league (unless your team is the one that winds up losing it).