Nationals Baseball: Injury Updates NL East

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Injury Updates NL East

The Nats are a very good team and should win the NL East.  But they don't play in a vacuum and where they end up is going to have alot to do with the teams they are playing 19 times a year. If those teams step up and play above expectations that means more wins for them, fewer wins for the Nats and trouble. If those teams fall away exactly the opposite happens. Well, how do those teams look today, heading into the season? Today we won't do a preview. Instead we'll look to see how injuries have effected these teams.


Stephen Matz, perennial injury risk, was supposed to be back after season-ending elbow surgery (bone spur) last year. But unsurprisingly he is hurt again. This wouldn't be so bad but Matt Harvey is recovering from his own surgery and it's one, thorasic outlet syndrome, that basically leaves him a question mark on whether he will be ok or never be the same*.  The Mets have starting rotation depth, Gsellman, Lugo, Wheeler, who all have potential, but they'd rather have Matz and a to-form Harvey as they have already proven they can be part of the dominating starting pitching the Mets probably need to cover a blah offense. 

Offensively Juan Lugares is out, which robs them of an effective 4th OF but nothing more. David Wright is out but this isn't an surprise at all and they weren't relying on him. It's not a good offense, but at least it's healthy.


The Braves rotation is healthy. Old and not good, but healthy. Their pen has suffered a loss with Mauricio Cabrera hurting his elbow. He was the #4 arm in the pen and the #3 arm Vizcaino has had a wild swing from 2015 (great) to 2016 (bad). He's looked good in Spring but if he falters the Braves could have a tough time with the pen.

The Braves lost Sean Rodriguez as a 2nd-base / super utility guy. They've replaced him with Brandon Phillips which should be a wash for 2017 but man the Braves can't afford another offensive injury. They have arguably the worst bench in the majors.


The Phillies have had an uneventful spring. Zach Eflin, who might have fought for a rotation spot, suffered enough setbacks to start in AAA but that's about all I could find. The team they are putting out there is it's near optimal team. Of course what that is is a team that is shaking all the young players it has to see which good ones drop out.


The Marlins suffered the biggest loss of them all with the off-season late season tragedy with Jose Fernandez. Baseball wise there is no replacing his impact.  On the other end of the rotation Jeff Locke has bicep issues and won't be in competition for a rotation spot anytime soon. This leaves the Marlins' staff, which is already questionable, thin with depth. At least the bullpen is healthy so perhaps they can cover all those innings they'll likely see. Offensively things aren't any better for the Marlins. Martin Prado is battling a hammy and won't be ready by opening day providing a problem for an offense that can't really afford one.

Injury wise the Mets have what is now annual questions with the rotation. They should be able to cover them, though. Should. That would leave them still battling the Nats. The Braves were a team that you felt might compete if everything went right health-wise but the season isn't quite starting that way.  It's not off the rails yet but it's not the start you want. The Phillies, on the other hand, have the start the Braves want but not the team. They'd need more than just health. The Marlins are the team starting the year off on the wrong foot. That's a bad sign for a team that was already a disappointment last year after Stanton took a dive. I'd probably bet the under on the Marlins.

The Nats are in theory healthy so they start with a leg up on the Mets. But we'll see pretty soon if that rotation health is real or a mirage created by Spring Training usage patterns. If it is real you have to give the Nats a little head start on whereever you put these teams in your head. If nothing else, that's where you want to be.

*which is honestly better than most shoulder injury prognosisisisis.


Chas R said...

Yeah, we really have bene fortunate with injuries. Let's hope that continues. Bold prediction by Matz on

Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper parties like it's 2015, Stephen Strasburg doesn't miss a single start (including October) and the Nats go all the way, allowing skipper Dusty Baker -- all 68 years of him, by then -- to finally win that elusive ring and ride off into the sunset. Or into his vineyards. Or both. -- Eddie Matz

Josh Higham said...

Matz is a hair overconfident, I think. Honestly, I think either one of those two things would give the Nats a great chance to win it all. Predicting both is bound to anger the baseball gods, right?

Anonymous said...

How is it that the Mets have 6-7 good arms under 26 years old? They seem to keep churning out flame-throwing starting pitching...

Bjd1207 said...

@Anon - Yea it's pretty ridiculous. DeGrom, Harvey, Matz, Gsellman all came up through their system. Syndergaard came via the Dickey trade, and Wheeler via a Carlos Beltran trade way back in the day. But other than that, home grown

Harper said...

Anon - Don't forget Szapucki! Look at those numbers! #1 Szapucki fan here from last July!

The Mets really focused on acquiring SP depth. A lot of it. That allows for stuff to happen such as Harvey suffers injury, Wheeler never gets it, but they still have an ace because Syndergaard did get it and is healthy. Along with that and whatever development process they have they've gotten lucky. deGrom and Gsellman both would have been happily accepted as 4/5 types early in minor league careers because of their raw stuff. deGrom's past that. Gsellman might be too.

Of course the flip side is that they don't develop bats. Nimmo, Conforto, Flores, Plawecki, are all bordeline cases. Couldn't cover then when say d'Arnaud (Tor developed) or Cuddyer fail out. That's why they are so SP heavy.

Fries said...

Treinen named closer, now that's a surprise. I suspected he was 3rd in line

Froggy said...

It's a long season. I'll bet dollars to donuts he isn't the closer at the end of the season. Why? Because if he is pitching well Dusty will destroy his arm.

mike k said...

It worries me a little that a pitcher with control issues will be pitching the ninth inning. But as Froggy said, it's a long season. Hopefully someone emerges as simply dominant during that time.

Ok mind readers - did Kelley actually lose out because of his injury history, or is Baker really high on Treinan and his groundball inducing ways (also wouldn't this make him a better put-out-fires guy?).

JE34 said...

Let's hope the Nats go this way:

If relievers are mentally prepared to just pitch when called upon... who cares who closes? Use situations and matchups and forget counting saves, and designating who gets what inning. I guess paydays and egos figure in - pitchers are humans like the rest of us - but here's hoping more meaningful stats drive measurements, and the attendant compensation.

(Love how Napoleon invented relief pitching!)