Washington Nationals bold predictions revisited

5. The Nationals will win 100 games, but come up short once again in the playoffs.

Not a chance, but I will at least give myself a pat on the back for at least realizing that there were real concerns about the 2015 Washington Nationals. No one could have predicted just how badly the injury bug would bit this team. In all, manager Matt Williams got to run out his full, intended Opening Day lineup for less than five games this season. It’s very hard to put together a playoff season, let alone a winning one when that happens. I did not foresee Anthony Rendon or Denard Span being hampered so severely by injuries.

Leading up to the season, I felt that this team reminded me very much of the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies who also had a historically great collection of arms, but big questions in their starting lineup. Outside of Harper, very few Nationals’ hitters really scare you. Ryan Zimmerman is hot now, but he looked when he was on the field before missing extended time to deal with a foot injury. Jayson Werth has never lived up to his contract, and players like Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos are just not quite good enough to be on a World Series contender. A full season from Rendon and Span would have helped mask the deficiencies in the second tier of the Nationals’ roster, but alas, neither was able to stay healthy.

The same issues that plagued Williams in the playoffs last year — bullpen management — have returned to haunt him again this year. The Nationals have already endured six walk-off losses this season in games which their designated closer, Drew Storen or Jonathan Papelbon (certainly a deal that would be undone were time travel more than science fiction), did not throw a single pitch. Thousands of words could be written about the bullpen implosion led by Storen and Casey Janssen in St. Louis this week and Williams’ refusal to go to Papelbon in anything but the ninth inning or a save situation. Two 8-5 losses in which the Nationals held late 5-3 leads could prove to be the ultimate nails in the coffin for the 2015 season and Williams’ tenure as the Washington manager.

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