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Considering a best bet for the Washington Nationals 2020 win total

After re-signing Stephen Strasburg and making a move in the bullpen, are the Nationals destined to go over their win total in 2020?

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg after a pitch against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning of game two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After the Washington Nationals completed celebrating their first World Series win in franchise history, their attention focused to the offseason and how they would defend their title. Once the parade ended and the celebrations ceased, the Nationals had two big, looming offseason questions to answer. Would they be able to retain both SP Stephen Strasburg and 3B Anthony Rendon? It looked as if only one would be able to return and thus shifting their plans for the other position.

Additions

RP Will Harris
2B Starlin Castro
1B/OF Eric Thames

Subtractions

3B Anthony Rendon

Offseason news

A decision had to be made and the Nationals did what was necessary to regain the service of World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg to a seven-year, $245 million contract. The move solidified the top of their rotation for the next few years along with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin. Strasburg will be 38 when the contract comes to a close, giving the Nationals many years of his dominant services. He’s fresh off a 2019 season where he posted the highest swing-and-miss rate of his career at 13.4%.

The signing of Strasburg didn’t come without its sacrifices. With so much money being allocated to his deal, the Nationals chose not to aggressively pursue Rendon, who moved on to the Los Angeles Angels with a seven-year, $245 million contract of his own. His loss will be felt in the lineup after slashing .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 126 RBI through 146 games last season. With it being nearly impossible to replace his bat, the Nationals have brought Starlin Castro into the mix, who has an underrated bat. Castro should play every day, whether that be at second or third base. Don’t let his time with the Florida Marlins fool you, this is someone who can still hit for double-digit power while making plays in the infield defensively. Sure, the name value isn’t nearly on the level of Rendon but Nationals’ fans will be surprised.

One of the biggest downfalls for the Nationals last season was their bullpen. Going into the playoffs, it was highly talked about as what could be their biggest downfall. With the inability to close out games, how could a team possibly go on and beat the best of the best in the playoffs? Not only did they survive the tale, but they also added one of the best relievers on the market for the upcoming season. Harris, who was on the Astros side in the loss during the World Series, will now bolster the back end of the Nats bullpen for the next three years. While his age of 35 and a three-year deal sound a bit much, they’re getting a player who posted a 1.50 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 62/13 K/BB ratio over 60 regular-season innings with the Houston Astros. Stability was something the Nationals never had in the pen last season and now with Harris, along with Sean Doolittle, Tanner Hudson and Tanner Rainey, could end up being one of their biggest strengths.

Best bet

DraftKings Sportsbook has the team listed with an over/under win total of 88.5 wins. Last season, the Nationals ended the regular season with a 93-69 record, which was good for a Wild Card spot and second in the NL East division. It’s hard for me to see this Nats team going under their 88.5 win total with the team remaining relatively the same with the big exception being Rendon. Sure, the loss of him will certainly be felt during the season but I also don’t think it’s out of the question to see the Nats make a move during the season for a third baseman. Names like Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado or Kyle Seager could become available and help fill the void. Aside from that, a much more solidified bullpen should keep games in reach, giving them a couple of extra wins that could have been offset without Rendon.

Nationals OVER 88.5 wins

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