So before we get to this year I like to go over what I said last year, see what I wrote and then what actually happened. I offered the usual two extreme scenarios - for last year it was the nightmare of finishing .500 and the dream of 100 wins - and noted how the season could transpire to get the Nats to that point. Obviously neither happened, these aren't predictions, but the Nats finished a lot closer to 100 wins so that's the one we'll look at.
To get to a high win total, I was right about Fister helping, LaRoche bouncing back with the bat, Strasbrug getting a bit better, the pen pitching better, and the bench improving merely to average. That right there is was like 8 wins or something starting at 86.5 so 94.5 or so. We're just poking around here.
But the rest of the way was powered by Ramos' playing time going way up (wrong), and Bryce taking the next step (he actually got worse and played less). That knocked the Nats down to 90 or so. They didn't get to 100 so it's not like I have to find 9+ wins, but where'd the actual six or so more wins come from?
Almost all the production from here was from Rendon and Roark. I figured Rendon would improve but not to fringe MVP level. I figured the 5th starter would be a competent replacement and give the Nats a little bit more. Roark came in and had a very strong season. Right there we're real close to making it back up to where the Nats actually fell. From there it's just tweaks. The things that skewed a little better like ZNN and Span, beat out the things that skewed a little worse like Desmond. Frank Viola! Here the Nats were at 96 or so.
This year the nightmare scenario is easier. Even though the Nats missed the playoffs in 2013, getting them to .500 was damn near impossible. Everything went wrong to get them to miss the playoffs, I didn't have much more to give, especially since I can't (and won't) put injuries into these scenarios. This year they are back to just "missing the playoffs" which can happen at 88 wins or so. I think the Nats are real good, but I also think I can get them to 88 wins.
The dream scenario... that's a tough one to set. If I go for 100 wins like I did last year, that'll be a piece of cake. Bryce gets better, Scherzer is here - BAM done. Something like that. But is 4 more wins enough? Then again, I tried to to 110 wins before with the post 2012 team and I stalled out about a win and a half away. Getting that many more wins is tough. I think I'll give myself a little leeway and go for 108 wins. That's basically the modern record for wins by an NL team (Mets '86, Reds '75). The only teams to beat that were the Pirates (110) in 1909 and the official record holding Cubs of 1906 with 116. (well tied but in 8 fewer games so suck it Mariners! I was at this game and I laguhed and laughed and laughed)