Beltway Baseball: Nationals season preview
New season new intro welcomed the beltway baseball presented by The Washington Times on -- mark -- out here Nationals Park. They get you geared up for another season nationals baseball. Now we talked a lot all through spring training about how there's a sense of optimism maybe the most since they've had since moving to town. Real positive outlook that lately that's been tempered by some key injuries this lineup is not gonna look like Q what we thought it would on opening day no it's not. Mean you're talking about your cleanup hitter Michael Morse is gonna start -- that the L also you're center fielder Rick Ankiel is gonna start here on the DL. Now these aren't major injuries and they will be back in a couple of weeks but it does and programs and things. We're all of a sudden he'd kind of cleanup man I think it's Davies get a split between Adam LaRoche and Jason Werth depending on -- deposed starter -- whether it's lefty or righty. And Satterfield had it your season around different idea. Because you can see Mark DeRosa left field Brett Carroll some in center field can play a lot of those positions you know I will give them credit. They did a good job this winner adding some depth. To be able to withstand any injuries this isn't the kind of in the end of last year now Derosa is not Michael Morse by any means but for two weeks I think I would. Well you mention -- something that you know that there were able to handle -- at least for a little bit with injuries which we don't have to get used to some experimental lineups that we starting out. Yeah it could be and I think -- -- that kind of play by -- it's interesting also bring you seem to be going with the certainly. At Werth has its cleanup man behind there and now all of a sudden this exhibition game he goes with. The roast -- and worth it. So I think there is going to be some tinkering going on you said all along you like two guys at the top. Desmond and Espinosa Alexi we got to see how they perform on the field do they get on base enough and not as we've said all along that so key to this one is for the big boys. Zimmerman Rose worth more when it comes back to have guys drive him. Now as far as starting rotation for the most part it's -- -- there's -- long is dealing with injury. When -- particular Stephen Strasburg seems to be you know a 100% at this point is set to start opening day. Just talk about where he's come from I mean he just had a press conference talked about you know -- where he was last year now he's set to be the opening day start. Yeah it's pretty remarkable when you think about you know a year ago. He was barely had started throwing again I certainly wasn't on the mound pitching any -- team's situation and now he's back pitching on opening day and this is why I remember everyone said. Why bother having him back last September only risking it no problem that's why they did it to get those five starts out of the way. Make sure everything was fine and now he's good to go on opening day and I don't believe they would have let him start opening day he had made a big league start against Tommy John surgery. He looked very good this spring offseason working on some things like all guys are but they're really treating him just like. Almost any other pitcher other than there oxidant watched pitch count and -- innings over the course of the season but David -- 1067 innings on opening day no problem. Now as long as the pitching staff holds -- looks like the lineup is really going to be the concern. At least early on. If the lineups struggled to think that might affect when we see Bryce Harper because that's obviously and is on the watch and we don't expect to see him until June but. Is there anyway that the lineup might force and come up earlier. -- in the outcome. Got to be really careful with this. Obviously Bryce Harper could -- yet like that one in line but they are -- -- -- -- runs that you think they're gonna struggle at times to score some runs this year. They can't let that be the case they can't call him up. Before truly ready in case that he's established that he is and everything -- view at Tripoli. And when that movies made it's because he's ready not because even -- -- line. Now speaking of starting the season the nationals start on the road but there as far as their opponents. Early on it seems like a very winnable stretch. It's a very deep division at the same time and the Phillies are doing with some injuries may be worse than other teams in the division you think it's imperative for the nationals to get off to a hot start. I do think it is and it's there and a good situation from that regard you know if you look back over the years they've always had to -- -- Phillies. The Braves the Marlins really tough games in the division. They don't see those guys to start this year to get the Cubs and the Mets two teams are not expected -- -- -- to open up. The reds but the home opener of their good team that's going to be in the playoff race than the Astros to make -- worst in baseball. They don't see the Phillies or Braves until -- it was to the Marlins once in the first two months of the seasons for three games. There's an opportunity there and I mean never wanna look ahead to know. They should be used to this team that team but there's certainly an opportunity there I think for them to get off to a good start and with the Phillies -- Injuries at the Braves are without Tim Hudson right now. There is an opportunity there to jump out ahead and kind of set the tone for the rest of the division. Now let's look at the end of the season and disease it's really back loaded some tough games he got the Phillies got the Cardinals and then the Phillies. Talk about that last stretch and how they might I want to be playing catch -- Now I mean your last nine games of the year like you -- at Philly. At Saint Louis home against -- that is tough but if all those teams are expected to be in the race now. South Saint Louis played it down the stretch last he had exactly now. If you're the nationals obviously you'd love to be in position where those games mean something. But you also would like to be in position where you aren't -- to play catch up at that point. And it happened to win those games to sneak your way back up in the picture that's -- maybe you know as much as we focus on September games don't count the same. To get off to good start April that gives you little leeway later on now we're looking way far ahead here obviously but there is an opportunity if they can get out ahead. And now you face that tough stretch at the end of the season and if you're -- Aron and a four game deficit with five goes something that now let's look even further ahead let's talk predictions about games the nationals are gonna win and where they'll place in the division. You know all along the way -- put it is this is this team good enough capable of actually making the playoffs -- yes they are good enough and capable but. It would mean everything's -- place. On pitching staff. Lineups that produce more bullpen everybody's guys healthy. How often does everything come together -- happens on -- but not all that often you you've got to expect they're going to be hiccups along the way whether it's injuries. Whether it's somebody that you were counting on performance here it doesn't. So I do think this team is one notch below I do think there are winning team. I've got an 84 wins -- their first winning seasons with the -- -- and put right on the fringes of contention I think you can hang around for most the season. In the end I don't think they can quite get up to them well. You know all things considered long and go at 86 games I think he'll still miss out on the wild card. I think the Braves are gonna win the division but I think they have they've got too many young players that. If they take one more next step that's going to be a real powerhouse I was this close to picking the Braves myself and and they just had some of these injuries Chipper Jones going in the season. On the DL they. Something about them didn't quite look right in the spring training. This division is wide open it's amazing the Phillies are not they are meeting. The most talented team but it's not the gap that we always happy for anyone in the top four teams could in -- -- the division. I'm still stick with the Phillies just on strength the starting pitching they are gonna struggles or run the one that's getting old -- -- -- -- ball Hamels again there in the end. And I'm -- the Marlins. I I was leery of them -- first of all the different combustible parts and they still blow up in their faces that they got a lot of talent. They're playing well and I think and he's playing well gap Hanley is accepted being at third base Josh Johnson is healthy. Ozzie Guillen seems to have struck ordered them with the Marlins second nationals third. The braves' fourth. And that's it -- we both agree that the nationals are gonna prove albeit slightly we'll see how much they improved. It's going to be a long season will be here on the way baseball and that's insider dot com CSN Washington dot com. Thanks watch him go way baseball.