Braves third baseman Chipper Jones may play on the Nationals' closest rival for the 2012 N.L. East crown, but that doesn't stop him from giving credit where credit is due. So far this season he has gushed about both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and now he has praise for the team's pitching staff as a whole.
Jones told USA Today how he thinks the Nats' arms are perfect for the playoffs:
"Power arms, power arms that's what translates in the postseason," Jones said. "It's cold, guys are all wrapped up, it's hard to center the ball when a guy throws it 100 miles an hour. And these guys have a bunch of 'em."
He went on to name names like Gio Gonzalez and Ross Detwiler, each with fastballs in the mid-90's, but Jones didn't limit it to the starters.
"All the guys in their 'pen who throw 93 and above. Show me a team with at least two power arms at the top of their rotation and I'll show you a team that's more than likely going to go a long way in the postseason."
Jones himself has appeared in the playoffs 11 different times, a total of 20 postseason series'. As a member of the Braves since 1993, he has also witnessed first-hand great pitching as Atlanta once had one of the best rotations in history.
Jones sure is right about the Nats throwing hard, all five of the team's starters rank in the top 13 in the majors for average fastball velocity. Strasburg ranks first in the league with an average speed of 95.8 on his fastball, but he of course won't be pitching in the playoffs.
So many things have to break right for a team to reach the World Series and win it, but even without Strasburg they seem to have as good a chance as anybody. Even Chipper Jones agrees.
You can always count on the New York Daily News to run an audacious cover. The tabloid delivered again Friday with an image edited to show two of the league's best young hitters in Yankees pinstripes: Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Orioles short stop Manny Machado.
"Bats to the Future" is exactly the headline you'd expect, too.
It's hard to tell what's more odious to Washington and Baltimore fans: the image itself or the suggestion that baseball's new collective bargaining agreement makes it easier for the Yankees to poach their stars.
The premise of that argument comes from sources who say the new CBA contains two changes beneficial to New York: reduced revenue sharing burden (due to tweaks in how sharing is calculated, plus a deduction for the cost of building and running Yankee Stadium) and an increased luxury tax threshold.
Without going into number crunching detail, the Daily News explains how the club could afford Harper and/or Machado when they become free agents after the 2018 season.
The article's tone of inevitability, despite its many assumptions, will rankle fans of all 29 other teams. After all, the Yankees aren't the only franchise interested in Harper and Machado.
The Nationals and Orioles will presumably try to keep their stars. But to do that, they may have to fend off potentially historic money from the Bronx.
MORE BASEBALL: Nats let Ben Revere walk
Ben Revere was brought to Washington in the hopes he could solve the centerfield and lead-off issue that plagued them the previous year. After just one year, the Nationals have decided to move on from Revere as they declined to tender him.
The move makes Revere a free agent after a .217/.260/.300 season that fell way below expectations. Revere tied his career-high with two home runs and added 24 RBI while scoring 44 runs.
Stay tuned for more information!