If you thought COVID-19 was behind us, we got the stark reminder and a jolt of reality that it is not. Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo confirmed yesterday that one player (not identified) had tested positive for COVID, and today he said that two more players tested positive with the possibility of a fourth player who could be positive. From here, who knows where this heads as our own Nats could have created their own super-spreader situation.
“We’ve got a long season ahead of us,” Rizzo said yesterday while trying to stay optimistic. “We’re ready for the long haul. This is just a small blip on our radar screen. We’re going to handle it and take it in stride.”
“This isn’t the first time we’ve faced bumpy roads,” Martinez said this afternoon.
Now the season is delayed indefinitely. If the team is forced to play games while missing star players who are quarantining due to COVID, it could affect the team’s record. As of yesterday, we checked around for 2021 projections for the Washington Nationals.
The Athletic (Jim Bowden): 2nd place in NL East
Sports Illustrated: 3rd place in NL East, 88-74
The Athletic (Keith Law): 3rd place in NL East, 84-78
FiveThirtyEight: 3rd in NL East, 84-78
PECOTA: 3rd in NL East, 84-78
FanGraphs: 3rd place in NL East, 83-79
Baseball America: 3rd place in NL East
USA TODAY: 3rd place in NL East
Already those who set betting lines for a living are moving the Nats backwards a little bit in real-time. Nobody wants to start a season the way the Nats will have to at some point with so many players testing positive. Who knows what shape they will be in after a bout of COVID.
Sportsbooks have the Nats’ NL East odds between +600 and +650, giving them roughly a 14% chance to win the division. The Braves and Mets are between +120 and +150 across the board, putting them between 40 and 45%. In other words, both are deemed about three-times as likely to win the East as Washington. Their respective World Series futures show the same disparity, with the Nats between +3000 and +3300 and the Braves and Mets both at +1000. If you are looking to wager on the Nats’ this season, find a sportsbook near your location from this list. There is a wide selection of sites reviewed for new bettors or those who prefer to wager using an app.
“Everyone’s picking the champions of the divisions .. before the season starts,” Rizzo said on 106.7 Radio. “We’re built to win this year, and we want to win and our resumé speaks for itself. We’ve done a lot of good things, and you’re wearing a ring because of it and that’s what we’re all about is trying to get another one of those.”
Of course Rizzo is thinking positive about the team he built. Saying you are built to win and actually winning is done on the field, and in real games. When will we see real games for these Nats, nobody seems to know right now. Rizzo was clear that he does not want to take away vaccines for his players until they are eligible in the general population.
“We’re pursuing all the avenues to get players vaccinated, if they choose to do so. But we also have to be cognizant of not taking vaccines from a person who may need it more than the players do,” Rizzo said. “So it’s a fine line. But we are looking for a way to vaccinate our ballclub. We want to do it the right way at the right time, as to not take it away from anyone that needs it more than the players.”
The situation is fluid and to stress this is a health and safety issue cannot be said enough. While some fans are upset, the entire situation is a mess right now. Thoughts and prayers and well wishes for all of the sick players. Their health is more important in the game of life.