Washington Nationals: Is 2018 the season they go “all in”?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Willson Contreras
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Willson Contreras /

With another postseason meltdown, are the Washington Nationals missing their window to win it all?

Since becoming a Major League Baseball franchise in 2005, the Washington Nationals have had much promise since the beginning. Their first overall pick in franchise history — Ryan Zimmerman — is still with the team and producing at an all-time high level.

Fast-forward to 2009 when the Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg as the overall number one pick, who has lived up to all the hype and then some. The Nationals weren’t done, when they once again “earned” the top pick the very next season, selecting a can’t-miss phenom in Bryce Harper.

Add a few more pieces to the mix, including Daniel Murphy and Max Scherzer, to go with balance across the board, and the Nationals were primed to win it all or at least make their very first Fall Classic in 2017.

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Fate didn’t agree, with the Nationals once again exiting the playoffs early, this time at the hands of the resilient Chicago Cubs. Take a look at the postseason disappointment of the Nationals throughout the years:

2012: 98-64. NL East Champions. Lost in the Divisional round to the St. Louis Cardinals.

2014 96-66. NL East Champions. Lost in the Divisional round to the San Francisco Giants.

2016: 95-67. NL East Champions. Lost in the Divisional round to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2017: 97-65 NL East Champions. Lost in the Divisional round to the Chicago Cubs.

This video of the National’s meltdown says it all, with the perfect music accompanying it:

Bryce Harper is approaching the final year of his contract with the Nats in 2018, which could be the last chance they have to raise the Commissioner’s Trophy in the near future. Should the Washington Nationals go all-in during the off-season and risk it all for the 2018 campaign? The answer is a resilient yes. Looking at their record, their powerful lineup, and lights-out starting rotation, where do the Nationals need the most help? The bullpen.

The organization must fork out what it takes to load up the bullpen with some experience, especially during the 8th and 9th innings, where the Nats struggled mightily in 2017.

Each postseason, the Nationals seem to run into a buzz-saw or the hottest team in Major League Baseball, with the bracket doing them no favors. They also have had opportunities of their own, blowing huge Game 5 leads in both 2012 and 2017 in the NLDS.

Next: St. Louis Cardinals: 2017 Season Review and Offseason Preview

With a more safe and secure bullpen, and maybe one more bat just for the heck of it, the Nationals could make that deep playoff run they have always dreamed of. The slogan should be “2018 or bust” with Harper likely on his way out, Zimmerman towards the twilight of his career and with other key pieces approaching expiring contracts. There will be no excuses for the Nationals next season and they know it.