2018 Washington Nationals Depth Chart
The Nationals started the 2018 season as the defending NL East champions. A first-round playoff loss to the Cubs in the 2017 post-season was something the team looked to utilize heading into 2018. This sour taste remained bitter as the team will fall short of the playoffs. Combination struggles, rotational issues, and other such short-comings beg to reason for this downfall. A surging and young Braves team mirrored the season the Nationals had last year, tracing the team back to the drawing board for roster construction.
|Catcher||Matt Wieters||Spencer Kieboom||Pedro Severino|
|1st Base||Ryan Zimmerman||Mark Reynolds|
|2nd Base||Wilmer Difo|
|3rd Base||Anthony Rendon||Adrian Sanchez|
|Left Field||Juan Soto|
|Center Field||Bryce Harper||Michael Taylor||Andrew Stevenson|
|Right Field||Adam Eaton|
It’s hard to criticize the depth of the Nationals pitching staff as they create a talented arm pool throughout all 9-inning contests. The team plays owner to the league’s first 300-strikeout pitcher in Max Scherzer. Scherzer has continued to prove himself with the deception of his pitches. His arsenal runs 5-6 pitches deep, creating a code that is difficult for any hitter to crack. Stephen Strasburg has again been derailed by injury concerns and short outings. His health concerns continue to weigh on the rotation as he often slots in the 2 or 3-spot. His contract is rather heavy, so the off-season might present the opportunity to unload this cap concern. Tanner Roark has been featured in many contests, but lack of run support has created some fall-off in trusting his pitches. A 9-15 record teamed with a 4.34 ERA can present panic if Roark let’s these numbers enter his head. The run support hasn’t been there during his starts, but this is something that can be rounded through off-season training and positioning. The team has found the closer that will back them for the foreseeable future in Sean Doolittle. His high-speed fastball and off-speed magic are what keeps him in the realm of the best in the league. He is 32-years-old, but his stuff shows no slowing, which keeps promise at the closing and securing victories for the squad.
The infield comprises a tight-knit group of players that have been fostered through the organization or have been featured as the faces of the franchise. Ryan Zimmerman was the team’s first draft pick. His numbers have been tame as he nears the tail-end of his career. A mere .264 average is lower than his career numbers and his run totals will fall short of past successes. He continues to be the voice of reason throughout the organization, which is something the team can use to draw interest from free agents to youngsters. Speaking to youngsters, Trea Turner has cleaned up his batting presence. His power increase has also been a nice addition to the middle of the order. An early season injury might have spelled for the slight decrease in production. Unfortunately, the injury bug also bit Anthony Rendon. The 28-year-old spent a major of the season on the DL but has rebounded at a record clip. He leads the team in batting average at .311 and has claimed 24 long balls and 91 RBIs in short work. This production is the most promising story for the offense and represents a streak that the team hopes to carry into their 2019 campaign.
The top outfielder and the prized possession of the organization is Bryce Harper. Harper has struggled mightily this season, a level of adversity that marks territories unknown for the young right fielder. He is batting just under .250 and continues to raise his strikeout to walk ratio. His on-base percentage is scaled back immensely, which encompasses the need to discuss his future with the organization this off-season. A future diamond-in-the-rough emerged in one, Juan Soto. A .292 batting average proves that this 19-year-old has figured how the league works. He has also shown bursts of power, speed, and run production. His development could be tampered due to falling into a comfort zone, especially if the team is to move on from Harper. The organization must be smart when it comes to handling Soto to ensure he reaches the desired longevity of an everyday outfielder.
The infield is secured with their slotting. Rendon is a lock at third and Turner is your everyday second baseman. Wilmer Difo and other youngsters have shared time at second, which is a position that is begging for that everyday talent to match the likes of the established players within this tier. Adam Eaton is the third outfielder, but his position may be lowered to a role spot with the up-and-comer Victor Robles coming on strong at the close of 2018. The farm system remains healthy and continues to pump talent up quickly. The Harper situation will play a major teller into what the team is looking to do in future seasons.