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They go together: Nationals and injuries

The Nationals have struggled keeping players off the injured list — a problem plaguing the season.

MLB: AUG 14 Nationals at Orioles Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As I write this, the Washington Nationals are 17-28, which is 9.5 games back in the division.

As for the National League, Washington is outpacing onlythe Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Nationals could, theoretically, still sneak into the playoffs, but it’s a long shot. Coming into the season, many were high on the defending champions, but a slew of injuries have derailed any potential plans the Nats had to repeat. Mix in some underperforming assets and it’s the correct combination for a letdown of a year.

According to RotoWire’s injury list, the Nationals currently have 19 players on the IL (including the three opt outs, Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross, and Wellington Castillo, as well as a pair of suspensions). There are a number of expected contributors on that list, including Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Rainey, and Sean Doolittle.

According to a Washington Post article, General Manager Mike Rizzo is beginning to turn his attention to what comes next in the nation’s capital, including who’s going to be around next season and who will be elsewhere.

Doolittle, Asdrubal Cabrera, Kurt Suzuki, and Zimmerman will all be free agents at season’s end, while Howie Kendrick, Adam Eaton, Anibal Sanchez, and Eric Thames will have “mutual or club options” for next season. It’s hard to say what exactly the front office will opt to do, but given the team’s performance this season, it might make sense that many of the aging veterans will be on their way out.

At this point, perhaps the only silver lining is that fans and the team will be able to see some of the younger talent take the field and begin to build around them. It’s unfortunate that that’s what fans have to watch during the season following a World Series title, especially when the expectation was that the club would be competitive again within the league — or, at the very least, within the division.

What’s troublesome about the new upcoming talent is that, well, there’s not that much of it.

In early March, Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Mike Rosenbaum released minor league rankings for all 30 Major League Baseball teams and the Nationals came in at a dismal 29th in the league, ahead of only the Milwaukee Brewers.

The road ahead could be more arduous for the Nationals than many anticipated at this point. It could be an eventful offseason for the club, and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Rizzo and company can finesse the Nats into a more advantageous position.