Happy Opening Day, Federal Baseball-ers! At times this offseason, it looked as though this day may not come around until sometime deep into the summer, so we’re very grateful to have a 162-game slate that’s only a little fashionably late to cover this year.
As has now become a tradition at FBB, we’ve got our annual predictions piece where we, as a staff, take a stab at guessing various questions about the Washington Nationals.
Given the state of the Nationals heading into this season, the predictions reflect that, with some questions more geared to how this season affects the team’s outlook moving forward as opposed to just the success of the team in 2022. Also, prepare for some pessimism.
First, let’s have a look at the daring souls who are attempting to not make fools of themselves...
- Patrick Reddington - Editor-in-chief, grumbling about the universal DH
- Blake Finney - Wait, do I not get an arbitration hearing!?
- Marty Niland - D.C. baseball aficionado, Alcides Escobar believer
Who will lead the team in HRs? How many?
- Patrick - Juan Soto, 35
- Blake - Juan Soto, 37
- Marty - Juan Soto, 39
We start our predictions pretty much in lockstep here predicting that Juan Soto will once again win the team’s home run crown. Last year, Soto just edged out Josh Bell with 29 home runs, but we all go a little higher than that this year.
Which pitcher will lead the team in Wins? How many?
- Patrick - Patrick Corbin, 11
- Blake - Josiah Gray, 12
- Marty - Stephen Strasburg, 10
It’s fair to say we’re not expecting too many wins, huh. We’re all within one of each other on the total, though we go with three different pitchers. Maybe the question will be whether the bullpen can actually hang on to leads that these pitchers give them late in games...
Who will lead the team in SVs? How many?
- Patrick - Kyle Finnegan, 20
- Blake - Tanner Rainey, 17
- Marty - Tanner Rainey, 20
Good luck trying to predict how this bullpen shakes out, both to start the season, and potentially after the trade deadline. There’s no clear closer on the team, but there are a few candidates to pitch the late innings. Kyle Finnegan was the de facto closer to finish last year, but struggled, while Tanner Rainey has previously been dubbed as the closer of the future.
How many starts will Stephen Strasburg make this season?
- Patrick - 25
- Blake - 15
- Marty - 14
Now we move on to some predictions around the main storylines of the season. Coming off of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the health and performance of Stephen Strasburg is going to be monitored by all in the organization. Patrick, ever the Strasburg believer, thinks he’ll return soon-ish and stay healthy, while Marty and I are a bit more dubious about his health.
How many starts will Cade Cavalli make this season?
- Patrick - 10
- Blake - 9
- Marty - 1
From the past with Strasburg, to the future of the rotation in Cade Cavalli. The towering right-hander got an extended look this Spring Training but, as expected, wound up starting the year in Triple-A. He’s knocking on the door though. Patrick and I see an extended look at Cavalli in the second half of the year, while Marty is predicting just a quick cup of coffee.
What will the OPS of Juan Soto, Nelson Cruz, and Josh Bell added together be?
- Patrick - 2.730 (.910 average)
- Blake - 2.554 (.851 average)
- Marty - 2.450 (.817 average)
We take a slight detour from the pitching staff to look at the heart of the Nats’ order, and what should be one of the few strengths on this team. How will they perform though? While our guesses look pretty close, when you average them out between the three of them, they get pretty varied. Let’s be honest though, Juan Soto will probably carry this group in OPS.
Rank the following pitchers by ERA, lowest to highest: Erick Fedde, Josh Rogers, Paolo Espino, Joe Ross
- Patrick - Rogers, Espino, Fedde, Ross
- Blake - Ross, Fedde, Espino, Rogers
- Marty - Espino, Rogers, Fedde, Ross
Back to the rotation, and in this cluster of back-end potential starters for the team, we look at who we think will perform best ERA-wise. Come on, Patrick and Marty, do you not believe it will be eighteenth time the charm for Joe Ross and Erick Fedde!? If they can even get two of these pitchers to pitch below a 4.00 ERA, it could make a difference to this team.
Which pitcher will make the most appearances out of the bullpen and how many?
- Patrick - Kyle Finnegan, 66
- Blake - Austin Voth, 59
- Marty - Kyle Finnegan, 67
Meanwhile, in the relief corps, there’s arguably even more uncertainty about who fits in where. We took a stab at who the closer might be earlier, but here we’re looking at which pitcher manager Dave Martinez may lean on the most this season. Last year, it was Kyle Finnegan with 68, which Patrick and Marty think will be the case again. I went a bit different with Austin Voth, who looks set to settle into a middle relief, do-it-all role this year.
Who will be the most notable player/prospect traded by the Nationals before the trade deadline?
- Patrick - Nelson Cruz
- Blake - Nelson Cruz
- Marty - Nelson Cruz
It wasn’t entirely unexpected that the Nationals were key players at the trade deadline last season, but it wasn’t really a focus until the team faded badly in July and led them to be sellers. This season, it’s very much a focus given the team’s rebuilding effort, and we’re in lockstep regarding who we think their most notable trade will involve in Cruz.
Will any Nationals win any awards at the end of the season? If so, who and what?
- Patrick - Juan Soto, Silver Slugger
- Blake - Juan Soto, Silver Slugger
- Marty - Juan Soto, NL batting title, and contend for the Triple Crown.
To the shock of absolutely nobody, the Nationals’ best hope at winning any award lies in the hands of their 23-year-old phenom. Silver Slugger, a batting title, potential triple crown, maybe an MVP? The sky is really the limit for Soto this season.
How many wins will the Nationals have?
- Patrick - 74
- Blake - 66
- Marty - 69
We did warn you that these predictions were going to be pretty pessimistic! We’ve already been through some predictions that may have indicated where this was going, but unsurprisingly, none of us see the Nats exceeding the 75-win threshold, and they may even flirt with triple-digit losses. Also, nice prediction, Marty.
What will the final NL East standings be? (Wild Card marked with a *)
- Patrick - Braves, Mets*, Phillies, Nationals, Marlins
- Blake - Braves, Mets*, Phillies, Marlins, Nationals
- Marty - Mets, Braves*, Marlins*, Phillies, Nationals
With the low win totals above, it shouldn’t be a surprise that none of us have the Nationals anywhere near a playoff spot in our standings prediction — and why we’ve ditched our usual “how will the season end for the Nationals” question. Aside from the Nats though, we think it’s between the Braves and Mets for the division and potentially a Wild Card spot.
One bold prediction not covered by the above...
- Patrick - Patrick Corbin will have more wins than losses in the end. But pitchers wins are très stupide.
- Blake - Keibert Ruiz makes the NL All-Star team.
- Marty - Nobody, and I mean no-BODY, hangs thirty runs on the Nats in a game this season.
Guess who made their “bold” prediction after the Cardinals smacked the Nationals around for 29 runs in Spring Training? Aside from that, Patrick plays it safe with his prediction to get back on track after missing his last one. And then there’s my bold prediction, which is pretty out there — it was either that or the team finishes last in the majors in ERA and FIP...
That’s all we have for you this year. As ever, feel free to leave any record, standings, or bold predictions in the comments and we’ll keep an eye on them for our eventual end-of-season recap of these predictions in November.