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MLB Predictions / Previews: Washington Nationals

MLB Team Previews – Washington Nationals

While MLB betting fans will never mistake the Washington Nationals for the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays or even the 2009 Kansas City Royals, things may finally be looking ever-so-slightly up for them this season. While only a die-hard online sports betting player knows anything about their obscure pitching staff, it definitely looks like this team will hit in 2009. Think of them as the Baltimore Orioles of the NL East.

The Nats’ lineup is no sure bet to succeed in the 2009 MLB odds, but it certainly boasts some talent. Adam Dunn raised eyebrows when he signed with Washington in the offseason; I guess he doesn’t care too much about winning. While Dunn leaves a hitter’s park behind in Cincinnati, he still showed plenty of power on the road during his tenure with the Reds. When you’re 6’6″ and 275 pounds, your homers don’t just clear the fence; they land in the upper deck. In other words, MLB betting fans can still pencil him in for 35-plus bombs. Dunn will join the immensely talented but immensely crazy Elijah Dukes in the middle of the Nats’ order; if Dukes can keep his head on straight and stay healthy, neither of which is a great bet, he has 30/30 ability. 

Another toolsy guy hoping to break out is Lastings Milledge, who will lead off for Washington. You’ll want to avert your eyes when he’s playing center field, but he has a power/speed skill set similar to Dukes’. Two injury-prone but talented corner infielders, Ryan Zimmerman and Nick Johnson, should produce when they play. Zimmerman is the better bet to stay healthy but wear and tear has significantly sapped his pop. Speaking of pop – if Wily Mo Pena could ever play a full season, it would be exciting to see what his hit-the-ball-out-of-the-stadium power could produce, but he strikes out too much to get regular ABs. 

I don’t blame you if your eyes start glazing over now that I’m discussing the Nats’ pitching staff. It features a couple reclamation projects – Scott Olsen and Daniel Cabrera – who were considered top prospect just a few seasons ago. They’ll be effective in spots, but don’t bet on breakouts at the sportsbook. John Lannan is Washington’s “ace” in 2009 MLB betting, but his stats seemed a bit fluky last year; he doesn’t strike anyone out and he walks too many guys. Don’t be surprised if he implodes. The glimmer of hope is another Zimmerman – rookie Jordan, who could make the team after a strong spring showing so far. 

For the 85th year in a row, the Washington bullpen is a motley crew of no-names who won’t blow every game but aren’t true go-to guys. The current stopper is hulking Joel Hanrahan, who can blow hitters away but is a walk machine. He issued 42 free passes in 84 1/3 innings last year; to put that in perspective, Roy Halladay walked 39 batters in 246 innings last year. Hanrahan will be an adventure in the ninth, to say the least. 

There’s reason for optimism in Washington, as the Nats should finally score some runs this year, but MLB betting fans shouldn’t mistake them for a sleeper team. They have no pitching, so 80 wins would be a success.

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