NL East Notes: Nats, McCann, Zambrano, Fernandez

Entering his final season as Nationals manager, Davey Johnson said that, in his mind, it was "World Series or Bust" for 2013.  Today, the Nationals find themselves with a slim 1.6% chance of getting the second Wild Card spot in the National League, according to Baseball Prospectus.  What went wrong in Washington?  “We lost a few key players over the offseason and changed the dynamics of the bullpen. We had pretty much a set lineup and a had a different configuration on the bench. We still have a few little things to fix," Johnson said, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  "Starting pitching needs to be squared away. The bullpen is not nearly as efficient and effective as it was last year. And the bench has not been as productive. I still like the talent, but we lack some experience, as I talked about. I usually like to have my stacked hand before I make those predictions."  Here's more out of the NL East..

  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that it is a fait accompli that Brian McCann will be playing for a new team in 2014 due to the presence of Evan Gattis and Christian Bethancourt in Atlanta as well as the Braves' tight budget.
  • Pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who most recently played with the Marlins and Phillies organizations, is healthy and wants to play again in 2014, according to his agent Scott Shapiro (via a Heyman tweet). Big Z will play winter ball in Venezuela to prepare for next season, he adds.
  • Paul Hagen of MLB.com wonders if Jose Fernandez's campaign might be the best ever put together by a rookie pitcher.  The Marlins phenom had a 2.23 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in the 27 starts leading up to tonight's game.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.



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