Jim Williams: Mitch Williams says he's wild about the Nationals' pitching staff

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MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" did its in-depth preview of the Nationals this week. On the program, Mitch Williams, one of MLB Network's lead analysts and a former Phillies closer, predicted Washington would finish second in the National League East behind the Phillies and make the playoffs as a wild-card team.

Williams talked Tuesday about what he likes about the Nationals this season.

Why do you see the Nationals finishing second in the NL East?

Williams » "Last season I picked them to finish third, and with the improvement they have made, clearly they are the second-best team in the East and a true wild-card contender. It really starts with pitching and Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation, but that innings limit of 160 to 170 this year has me concerned. Early in the season they should have him go no longer than five innings and turn things over to the bullpen. They need to save his innings for a late summer playoff run; that makes sense. I really like the depth of the rotation. You have Jordan Zimmermann, who is a horse. Gio Gonzalez has the best curve in baseball for a left-hander. Edwin Jackson is a steal. He is a power pitcher that will eat up innings. John Lannan is a real solid fifth starter. I also was told by Davey Johnson that Chien-Ming Wang's sinker is as good as it was when he won 19 games with the Yankees. So once he gets off the [disabled list], that will be a great addition. You really need all of those arms to be a contender."

How about the rest of the team?

Williams »

"The bullpen is one of deepest in the majors. Drew Storen is a little sore now, but that is why you have Brad Lidge. Davey is not going to put Tyler Clippard in as the closer; he is the eighth-inning setup man. As for the rest of the team, they will get hitting from Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth will rebound and Michael Morse will still be the beast. I look for better production from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. The one problem that I do have with the Nationals is that they did not start Bryce Harper in center field. Trust me: In 20 days he will be in Nationals Park where he belongs. This team will win with pitching, defense and some well-timed power."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.

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Jim Williams

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