Welp we made it — another Washington Nationals Opening Day, (or in this case, night) is here POSTPONED. It’s on time this year, but hardly normal. Only 5,000 fans are entering Nationals Park a game this month as the pandemic continues.



Mets-Nats opener postponed; no makeup setnationals.com

Positive COVID-19 tests and exposures

Welp is spelled with a curly W, yet again. The season starts with COVID cases on the team (WTOP) after a successful spring training of no positive test results.

Back on the field

The 2020 season was forgettable in an abbreviated season. The victory lap from the 2019 World Series never happened. While that’s a shame, being denied a victory lap is better than not having reason for one.

There has been significant turnover since those halycon days of October 2019. The big three of the rotation are all back and seemingly healthy. Max Scherzer takes the mound to start the season, so expect an early inning home run because he’s too amped up and his fastball is flat. We’ll be reminded throughout the season that we can gamble on such things.

Stephen Strasburg is in his familiar second spot in the rotation after losing most of 2020 to an injury. If it had to happen, last year was the one to miss. Patrick Corbin in third in the rotation after a forgettable 2020 followed Jon Lester and Joe Ross. The latter opt-ed out in last year’s pandemic season.

Speaking of opting out, Ryan Zimmerman returns and has been raking in the spring. The ball doesn’t carry as well in April in the northeast as it tends to in Florida in March, so we’ll see. He’s expected to start against lefties and be a late inning replacement at 1st base for Josh Bell.

Barry Svrluga covered my concerns about Bell and the rest of the defense in a column. In short, the pitching staff needs to strike out a lot of batters and the hitters need to score a lot of runs.

Prediction

The team that is the healthiest may be the one that wins the NL East. The Mets got better, the Braves won the division the last two years. The Miami Marlins even made the postseason. The Philadelphia Phillies seem to the least changed.

I don’t see anybody running away with the division and I don’t see more than one wild card getting the play-in invitation.

Atlanta 90-72
New York 89-73
Washington 86-76
Philadephia 80-82
Miami 79-83

BOOM: 92 Wins – rotation pitches like they are 4 years younger, Joe Ross breaks through, Zimmerman, Bell and Schwarber all hit well enough to overcome defense, Soto and Turner keep improving, bullpen finds a way

BUST: 78 wins – rotation shows their age, Ross doesn’t get going, Zimmerman, Bell and Schwarber are middling at the plate, Turner and Soto regress, bullpen is well, the bullpen

Nats vs. Mets Q&A

Once again, I’m joined by Eric McErlain to discuss what’s going on with the DC’s Opening Night opponent, the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club.

Gamblor

Remember when you were younger and still went to parties? They would always be some dullard trying to get you bet on football or something. “How else are you going to make a Bengals – Jaguars game interesting?” or something like that.

All of pro sports is that guy now and a sports book is coming to Nationals Park. Every inning, you’ll probably have gambling ads too. Maybe an improvement over the pharmaceutical ads? Probably not.

Quick hits

We’ll seemingly never see the gold trimmed World Series Champion uniforms again. Good! I don’t equate them with winning it all, they make me think of a bad season in a terrible year.

Carter Kieboom getting a booze partnership aged…poorly.

No presidential first pitch this year. If you really want to see one, I have them (and other Opening Day festivities over the centuries) in this old blog post.

It’s going to be 47ish degrees tomorrow – I’m not heartbroken I’m missing the opener for the third time in 4 years.

Further reading

Washingtonian

The Post (paywalled)

UniWatch

ESPN

and don’t forget…

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