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Posted at 07:30 AM ET, 03/27/2012

Experts are starting to pick the Nationals to make the playoffs


The Nationals will get their moment in the niche cable spotlight tonight, as MLB Network will feature them in its “30 Clubs in 30 Days” series. The one-hour show, which many faithful readers have inquired about, airs at 10 p.m.

As part of the episode, MLB Network’s experts predict how the Nationals’ season will go. Larry Bowa sees “growing pains” and a third-place finish. Mitch Williams, the former Phillies closer, is far more optimistic.

“They’re gonna take second in the East and they’re gonna be one of the wild-card teams this year,” Williams said, per a press release previewing the show.

As national predictions start coming out, it will be interesting to see how many follow Williams’s lead and jump on the Nationals’ bandwagon. Given the Nationals’ history, it’s surreal to see a few already predicting a playoff run. They have never had a winning record, but a team leaping from mediocrity to the postseason is actually more common than a gradual climb to October.

The Nationals themselves can see it happening. A few players, and Manager Davey Johnson, have foreseen a late fall that includes baseball in Washington. Yesterday, newcomer Mark DeRosa, who played for the 2010 World Series champion Giants, became the latest, with a different spin.


Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals can see themselves in the postseason. (Paul Sancya - Associated Press)
“I think this is a team, if we can last the marathon and find a way to get in there, no team is going to want to play us,” DeRosa said. “They’re just not. I’ve been in the league long enough to realize power arms are tough to beat in the postseason. We’ve got four to six of them at any given moment. I watched it happen with San Francisco. It was a sputtering offense for most of the year. We got hot at the right time, but pitching put us over the top.”

So we have not only analysts predicting playoffs for the Nationals, but players mapping out the path to the World Series trophy. If you haven’t noticed, it is a different baseball world in Washington.

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By  |  07:30 AM ET, 03/27/2012

 
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