We all expected the Washington Nationals would compete in the NL East this year, but I don’t think anybody saw them getting out to this hot of a start.
It’s still early, but the rotation has been everything we thought it would be and more. Stephen Strasburg looks like a dominant ace and Gio Gonzalez has shown signs of brilliance in his last couple of starts.
Jordan Zimmermann has continued to progress after his great season in 2011, while Ross Detwiler has been an added bonus posting a 0.58 ERA in his first three starts. The bullpen has been excellent, even in the absence of Drew Storen.
As far as offense goes, Jayson Werth has started producing numbers that better reflect the huge contract he signed, batting .322 after 59 at-bats. Adam LaRoche is out to make all those Nationals fans who were calling for Prince Fielder look stupid. A guy that normally doesn’t produce until the second half of the season leads the team in RBIs, walks and home runs.
Ian Desmond is beginning to live up to expectations leading the team in hits and runs scored. The scary thing is that Ryan Zimmerman hasn’t even been mentioned yet. The third baseman has gotten out to a slow start but only figures to get better as the season goes on.
Now to be fair, five of their 12 wins have come against the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, but they did manage to take three out of four from the Cincinnati Reds, two out of three from a hot New York Mets team and recently beat division rivals Miami Marlins twice before a rain out on Sunday.
Their first real test won’t come until they play the Philadelphia Phillies early in May and Atlanta Braves at the end of the same month. Then we’ll have a good sense of just how good this team is and if they can be serious contenders in the NL East.
All the signs are there that this team is ready to break through, and a good start will only help their chances of making the playoffs for the first time since moving to Washington in 2005. They’ve done a great job drafting and developing players, while spending a little money here and there to keep talent in house and add some as well.
Now, it’s up to the fans to come out and support this team to help continue its success. Only 16,000 came out to watch Strasburg toss a gem against the Houston Astros on a Monday night, and only 64 percent of the stadium was filled to watch him pitch against Josh Johnson and the Marlins Saturday (April 21).
I know fans don’t want to get their hopes up, and if the Nats keep winning, they’ll eventually show up, but the time is now. We’re watching this young team become one of the powerhouses of the National League right before our eyes. It’s been amazing to see the progression, and it’s been a dreadfully slow process for fans, but now it’s time to show support and get behind this team that is set to contend for years to come.