The Nats collapsed last year at the worst possible time: twice within one strike of going to the NLCS.
And how have they solved this issue? Why, by signing yet another closer. Rafael Soriano signed a two-year, $28 million deal and will enter the year as the Nationals' closer. They still have Drew Storen, the pitcher who blew their division series against the Cardinals, and Tyler Clippard, who posted 32 saves while Storen was out most of the year with an injury? Can Davey Johnson keep all those pitchers happy?
The other significant change for the Nats this season is the addition of center fielder Denard Span from the Twins; that will mean that Jayson Werth won't have to play out of position there, and Roger Bernadina can become a good fourth outfielder. Bryce Harper will build off his Rookie of the Year season, and remember, he won't turn 21 until October.
The Nats brought back Adam LaRoche to play first base, but a player to watch is Tyler Moore, who hit .263/.327/.513 with 10 home runs in just 156 at-bats. Moore can play first base and the corner outfield spots; most teams would love to have a guy like this on the bench.
They'll also -- presumably -- have a full year of Stephen Strasburg with no innings limit.
With the Braves' signings, Atlanta will be a tough opponent, but I see the Nats defending their division title. The Cubs will visit Nationals Park May 10-11-12; Washington comes to Wrigley for a four-game series August 19-20-21-22.
This concludes our look at the NL East; we'll begin our previews of the NL West tomorrow with a feature on the Arizona Diamondbacks. I have also added all the team previews to this StoryStream™ -- you should also be able to see all the links on the right sidebar of this post.