It surely is a shame that the Braves could not win more games right off the bat this season. The National League is suspect at best.
The Cubs have flirted with .500 all year after winning the World Series. The Dodgers have a reputation for choking in the playoffs, and Dave Roberts is a questionable strategist. The Diamondbacks and Rockies have shown signs of coming back down to earth in recent weeks.
Then there is the Washington Nationals. Last year baseball fans shook their heads when Bryce Harper asked, “where’s my ring?” after signing Max Scherzer. Someone should probably remind Bryce that the Nationals still have not won a playoff series in franchise history, which dates back to 2005. Baby steps Bryce.
The Braves lack a frontline starter, but they could have an outside shot at beating any of these teams if they could find a way to squeeze in the playoffs. Unfortunately, this is unlikely.
There is no doubt the Nationals have a more talented roster than Atlanta, but they went through a similar rebuild process to build their team and have been going all in ever since. The results simply are not there. They have a great foundation for a team, with star players such as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Max Scherzer. Those are just a few names that headline a stacked roster.
However, a stubborn front office will be to blame this time around for the Nationals’ collapse. They have neglected adding bullpen upgrades all year long. Washington’s bullpen is dead-last in ERA. That is absolutely pathetic when you consider how easy it can be to find bullpen talent on the fly. The Braves have been able to put together serviceable bullpens despite rebuilding and selling assets in recent years.
Sure, perhaps the huge lead the Nationals have in the NL East will buy them enough time to get to the trade deadline to make a move. But they need more than just one piece, and the lack of options have called for the Nationals starters to put serious miles on their arms this year. The lack of options as well as the grind of the Nationals starters will lead to the evident collapse coming their way. Dusty Baker has a reputation for pushing his pitchers too far, and many feel this is a big reason why Mark Prior and Kerry Wood never lived up to their potential or stayed healthy in his time with the Cubs.
The Braves probably will not catch the Nationals. With a tad bit over two weeks until the trade deadline, the team is likely far enough down in the standings that the team will feel comfortable selling assets. However, if they don’t, the Braves could give them a run for their money down the stretch. The Nationals have serious problems that they have failed to address, and although their lineup is stacked, they are due for some regression at some point. They have a great roster on paper, but have failed to show the team chemistry to propel to the next level. The Nationals window could be closing, as Bryce Harper only signed a one-year extension.
They can’t even handle a rain delay!
The Nationals are not all they are cracked up to be, and expect similar results in the fall of 2017. Sorry Bryce, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. At the end of the day, the Braves have the bright future and both teams will be watching the fall classic on their respective televisions this season. The way the Braves roster is shaping out, this will not be the case for long. I cannot say the same for the Washington Nationals.