TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Washington Nationals

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series. Except Muldoon is a shiftless layabout, even by Saloon standards. So this one is kind of out of order. If we gave unreasonable hope to any Nationals fans, at least that would be a confirmation that they exist. 

Today, we cast our gaze to the nation's capitol to try and figure out where that burning garbage smell is coming from.


2015 Finish: 83-79, 2nd in NL East

So Long: Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Nate McLouth, Casey Janssen, Denard Span, Dan Uggla, Jordan Zimmermann, Yunel Escobar, Drew Storen

Welcome: Chris Heisey, Yusmeiro Petit, Stephen Drew, Daniel Murphy, Ben Revere, Bronson Arroyo

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Ben Revere. OF
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
3. Bryce Harper, OF
4. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
5. Daniel Murphy, 2B
6. Jayson Werth, OF
7. Danny Espinoza, SS
8. Wilson Ramos, C

Starting Rotation
1. Max Scherzer
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Joe Ross
5. Tanner Roark

Bullpen
Oliver Perez, Burke Badenhop, Blake Treinen, Assorted Bits and Pieces

Closer
Dickface Papelbon

Rap Lyric: "Yep listening to nothing, taking no suggestions/Or destructive criticisms, that can't improve on perfection"

- MF Doom, "The Drop"

This incredibly talented team had a nightmare 2015 that would probably give Cubs fans pause if not for the smooth, sensual vibe of Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo Maddon. They had a lot of hitting, a lot of pitching, and a vulnerable division. They proceeded to trade for Sentient Prostate Cancer to close out games, drop a whole bunch of games to New York (eh) and Miami (yikes), and miss out on the playoffs in what was loudly proclaimed Their Year. They went 35-40 after the ASB, the closer everyone warned them would be locker room cancer decided to try and choke out their only bright spot, and Washington fans started eyeing the exits to go back into 2005-2011 cryosleep.

So how do you salvage this talented mess? Dusty Baker! TMS actually obtained some exclusive footage from the executive suite moments after the call was made to hire Dusty as the new skipper:

"Can't take too many walks. It clogs up the bases. NATITUDE!"

Reason to Watch: Bryce Harper. Baseball's maybe the only place in life where I could stand more self-regarding youth wrecking up the place. Anything that makes desiccated old baseball writers drop their monocles into their prune-tinis is a-okay with Muldoon. I hope he hits a 700 foot home run, dances for six minutes, then burns a Joe DiMaggio jersey on home plate. Now that Sleeper Agent Papelbon failed to succeed in his Manchurian Candidate choke-assassination, none are safe from the mohawked barbarian tearing down the game's most hallowed unwritten rules. My prediction for 2015: he hits .400 and then smashes Ted Williams' frozen head with a Gallagher hammer at the press conference.

Reason to Drink: You know how on the earlier seasons of Mad Men, Freddy Rumsen degenerated from a respected account man to a guy who got fired for peeing his pants in front of a client one too many times? That's what's happening here, in extreme slow motion from 2012 until now.

The Fans: D.C.'s core baseball demographic is mostly made up of 23-year old kids making 19 grand a year to advise congressman and senators on matters of important public policy. I find that fucking terrifying, but my point is that people come into this town with pre-formed allegiances to other teams. Hell, there's a sizable Orioles contingent in the district, and that team's a sadness factory. Joining the Tiny Legislative Children is the super-rich (lawyers, lobbyists, lawyerbists), who give even less of a shit. The remainder is people who want to glom onto a team that might win something, but that's hardly unique to the District.

Give us a couple years of Dustyball and we can probably downgrade this section to "The Fans (Tim, Carol, Reggie, and Ben With the Lazy Eye)."

Worst Contract: There's $21 million going to Methuselah Werth. There's a very good chance that they end up paying him $2 million per homer this year, with a million left over for looking like the lost Avett Brother.

After this year, Bryce Harper is going to cost far, far more than $5 million, and there's a $42 million per year Max Scherzer Bomb waiting in the wings for when the 2019-2021 years when he starts to age and pitch like Expensive Jason Marquis. Should be fun!

Fantasy Standout: BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP. BRO-ICE. HAR-PER. CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP.

Let's bong some Mountain Dew Kickstart and punch a police horse.

Fantasy Bust: Did anyone remember to oil Strasburg before it started raining? No? Did you at least throw a tarp over him? Well, shit.

Pop Culture Equivalent: Rome. The end of it, when stuff was on fire and Emperor Nero was playing a fiddle song about how The Big Red Machine could beat any of these showboat sissy-boy teams. ON-BASE PERCENTAGE DON'T WIN BASEBALL, GEEKS!

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