After finishing a game under .500 last season (80-81), the Washington Nationals will kick off the 2012 season against the Chicago Cubs on the road on Thursday.
The Nationals finished third in the National League East but this season, players predicted the team will make the playoffs this year, the Washington Post reported.
Stephen Strasburg is healthy and atop the Nationals' pitching rotation. Strasburg will take the mound for the Nationals on April 5 at Wrigley Field, the Washington Times reported.
Strasburg finished Spring Training with a 1-4 record and a 4.18 ERA, the Washington Times reported.
"Bottom line is, I got my work in," Strasburg told the Times. "Felt good some days. Felt a little off on others."
Top prospect Bryce Harper will again not be on the big league roster Opening Day, but will instead be with AAA Syracuse, the Washington Post reported. "Harper watch" will be under way with the first pitch of the season.
The Nationals will be without two other stars to start the season. The Washington Times reported Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel will join AA Harrisburg on Thursday to rehab injuries. Morse blasted 31 home runs and had 95 RBI to lead the Nationals last season and Ankiel finished eighth on the team with 37 RBI.
Tell us: Will the Nationals be able to live up to their own prediction they'd make the playoffs? Or will it be another disappointingly short season for Nationals fans?