The future doesn't seem as bright for Bryce Harper and the Nationals as it once did. Image Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies vs. Nationals Series Preview: A Battle of NL East Also-Rans


The Phillies may have hoped they would be contenders in 2013, but the Nationals expected to be.  Based on their division title last season, most pundits agreed that the Nats were the team to beat in the National League East.  But unless the Atlanta Braves suffer a monumental collapse, the Nationals’ reign atop the division will only last one season.

Instead of a key division battle between two contenders, this weekend’s series will instead be a matchup of two disappointing teams that are likely to miss the playoffs.

What’s New with the Nationals

The Nats had an important series against the Braves this week. They knew that they needed to win the series, and that unless they swept the Braves, their hopes of a division title would likely be dashed.  What happened?  The red-hot Braves swept the series, and the teams’ Twitter accounts engaged in an amusing feud.

Remember when everyone talked about how the Nats were going to dominate the division for years?  Some people warned Nats fans that nothing is guaranteed in baseball, and if they didn’t win the World Series in 2012, they weren’t necessarily promised another shot in 2013.

I’m not saying that one down season means that the Nationals don’t still have a bright future.  But it goes to show that all of the “future dynasty” talk may have been a bit premature.

Nats Player Who Isn’t Entirely Horrible

Former Phillie Jayson Werth is having a solid season.  Sure, he still gets injured often (He suffered a groin injury earlier this week) but when healthy, he’s been one of the Nats’ best weapons.  His 16 home runs are tied for second on the Nationals, and his .908 OPS is best on the team

Nats Player Who is Horrible

Steve Lombardozzi can play poorly at several positions. Image Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Lombardozzi can play multiple positions, which theoretically makes him a useful backup.  The problem is that Lombardozzi provides weak defense at all of those positions.  He doesn’t make up for it with the bat either.  His .585 OPS means that whenever he is subbing for a starter, there’s going to be an offensive drop off at that position.

 

Tweet of Optimism

While Delmon Young’s presence wasn’t the atrocity that some people made it out to be, I’d much rather see Darin Ruf and Cody Asche get more playing time.

Tweet of Pessimism

Delmon Young’s replacement on the roster is Casper Wells.  Wells is unlikely to prove much of an improvement:

 

Final Take

I’ve given up hope of the Phillies making it into the playoffs.  But since I’ll be in attendance at the game on Saturday, I’m hoping that they can at least play well that night.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Baseball Bryce Harper Casper Wells Cody Asche Darin Ruf Delmon Young Jayson Werth Mike Lacy MLB Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview Steve Lombardozzi Washington Nationals