Nationals haven’t been slowed down by injuries
The Washington Nationals entered the second half of the season with a 48-39 record, giving them a two-game lead on the New York Mets in theNLEast. It’s a slimmer margin than expected, given how high expectations were at the beginning of the year.
After all, this was the preseason favorite to win the World Series after adding all-star right-hander Max Scherzer to a club that won 96 games a season ago.
One reason for the lower regular season win total has been injuries to key members of the team. As The Post’s Barry Svrluga wrote:
“The Washington Nationals’ lineup was supposed to look something like this: Denard Span in center, Anthony Rendon at third, Jayson Werth in left, Bryce Harper in right, Ryan Zimmerman at first, Ian Desmond at short, Wilson Ramos catching and Yunel Escobar at second. The number of times those eight players have appeared in a game together this year: zero.”
However, that hasn’t stopped the Nats from dominating an otherwise weak division, giving them an 89.5 percent chance at making the playoffs and an 85.6 percent chance at winning the National League East.
That’s a 2.5 FanGraphs wins above replacement difference between the roster most commonly used now, which includes Michael A. Taylor (0.8 projected fWAR), Clint Robinson (0.2 fWAR) and Matt den Dekker (0.2 fWAR).
As for pitching, getting a healthy Stephen Strasburg would make a big difference. Right now Joe Ross and Tanner Roark are getting the starts, but Strasburg would be an upgrade to both.
Strasburg is projected to strike out almost 10 batters per nine innings (9.87), producing 1.7 fWAR. That’s more wins above replacement than Ross (0.3) and Roark (0.8) combined.
A healthy roster will improve the Nats by quite a bit, but even if they stay with the current lineup, they should still win the NL East by a comfortable margin.