Our analysts discuss the Nationals' chances in the NL East, the teams with the best "central line" and this weekend's most exciting series.
You too can let us know what you want our experts to discuss: Tweet us @ESPN_MLB with suggestions. You can also use the #espntripleplay hashtag. Today's edition features a question brought to you by a reader.
1. Drew Storen and Michael Morse are both out for a while. Do the Nats still have a chance in the NL East?
David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield
The Storen injury, even if he's out until the All-Star break, shouldn't affect the Nationals' chances. Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge will be fine sharing closer duties, and this team has plenty of bullpen depth. Morse is the bigger concern, but even when he returns I see a righty-heavy lineup that won't score enough runs to win the NL East.
Jeremy Lundblad (@JLundbladESPN
), ESPN Stats & Info
No, though I'm not sure they ever did. The replacements can't replicate Morse's 2011 production. Then again, it remains to be seen if even Morse can. Rodriguez has the stuff to close, just not the control. A reliever probably shouldn't lead the league in wild pitches. Realistically, the Nationals are at least a year away.
Yes. The Nationals are off to a good start, but the injuries to Storen and Morse certainly hurt their chances in the crowded National League East. Their pitching staff is deep enough that it rivals even the Phillies' staff and it should be able to hold them in there until reinforcements come.
2. Which team has the best "central line" in baseball (C-SS-2B-CF)? (from @stdrums777)
Josh Hamilton has started six of the Rangers' first seven games in center field, so if he continues to start the best "central line" (love it) clearly belongs to Texas with Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Mike Napoli. I'm not even sure there's an honorable mention. Maybe the Yankees? Except you can argue Texas is stronger at all four positions (yes, including second base).
It's hard to beat the Rangers. Kinsler and Andrus are both dangerous with the bat but are even better defensively. Napoli isn't great behind the plate, but Rangers pitchers still had a 3.16 ERA throwing to him in 2011. And when it's healthy, Hamilton is about as good as it gets.
Being that I cover the Yankees, they are the first team that comes to mind here with Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter and Russell Martin. However, as good as that foursome is, the Rangers' group of Hamilton, Kinsler, Andrus and Napoli edges them out for the best in baseball.
3. Which weekend series are you most excited about?
Schoenfield: A's-Mariners? I kid! I have to go Rays-Red Sox, if only for the drama of that initial lineup introduction. In fact, maybe the Sox will just skip that altogether. Will Bobby V get booed? Will fans throw half-eaten pieces of chicken at Josh Beckett? Don't tell me this won't be exciting. Plus they get to face David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore.
Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols have played in the same game only three times (not including All-Star Games), and not since 2005. The Yankees' home opener will be Pujols' first game in the Bronx since 2003. And it all culminates in a "Sunday Night Baseball" game. Yes, I'd say this Angels-Yankees series is pretty intriguing for April.
There are a few good series this weekend. Tampa Bay at Boston is a good one, the Cubs at St. Louis is another can't-miss, but Pujols at the Yankees' home-opening weekend visiting for the first time in an Angels uniform doesn't take a backseat to anybody. There are potential for fireworks and it is a very early potential playoff preview in what should be the best series of the weekend.