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The Nationals Starting Rotation: A Problem that Needs to be Fixed

Once considered having the best starting rotations in Major League Baseball, the Nationals have a lot of work to do to reclaim that distinction.


With a very interesting free agency coming up, Mike Rizzo and the team have some important decisions to make. One of the problems that need to be addressed is the starting pitching rotation. With a bunch of Nationals prospects not just ready yet to make their MLB debut in 2023, the Nationals have to think about who will be in the starting rotation for 2023.

We all know that Patrick Corbin and recently acquired Josiah Gray will be making the starting rotation, we don’t know if Stephen Strasburg can pitch a full season or should he even pitch tons of innings next season, and with Joe Ross and Erick Fedde’s arbitration Eligible the Nationals don’t really have things tied up nicely.

So what should the Nationals do to shore up the starting rotation? There are a lot of great pitchers that will be free agents starting after the World Series. Here are a couple of free agents that might be a good fit for the Nationals:

RHP Marcus Stroman

Right-handed Pitcher Marcus Stroman will be one of the best pitchers available in free agency this off-season and he has the numbers to prove that.

After sitting out in 2020, Stroman took a bet on himself by accepting a one-year, $18.9 million offer to stick with the New York Mets for another season in order to build up his value. Stroman was impressive in 2021, starting in a league-leading 33 games, and produced a 3.02 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP across pitching 179 innings. Stroman also had a total of 158 strikeouts this past season.

Throughout his professional career, Stroman has proven to be an above-average No. 2 starter, however, if Stroman joins the Nationals he would be elevated to a number one starter in the pitching rotation. Stroman is going to get paid like a number one starter so it would make sense for the Nationals to make him an offer.

Many teams are going to be interested in talking with the right-hander, such as the New York Mets, the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, and the Toronto Blue Jays just to name a few. The current belief and around MLB is that Stroman will draw a 5-6 year deal worth $25 million annually at a “minimum.”

With Stroman commanding this amount of money, he might not be in the Nationals plan for the upcoming year as they have a lot of other holes to fill and have a lot of money currently in pitching with Strasburg and Corbin (and don’t forget the backloaded amount that they owe to Max Scherzer).

LHP Aaron Loup

Our friends at District on took a close look at this pending free agent. From the article: “

“Fresh off of an impressive World Series run with the Tampa Bay Rays, Loup transformed from a reliable option into one of the best lefty relievers in baseball. With Tampa, he posted a 2.52 ERA and 3.83 FIP in 25 innings. However, in 56.2 innings last year with the Mets, Loup went 6-0, with a 0.95 ERA, 57 strikeouts, and a 2.45 FIP. He went 0-4 in save opportunities but recorded 17 holds.

New York signed Loup to a bargain deal while the Nationals rolled the dice on Brad Hand. This time around, the Nats should sign Loup to help bolster a bullpen that was one of the worst in baseball.  Washington finished the 2021 season last in all of baseball in losses (42), tied for last in FIP (4.86) and blown saves (34), 29th in ERA (5.08), and fWAR (-0.2), and 28th in LOB% (67.7%).

A major part of Loup’s turnaround was due to fixing his ground ball rate and not allowing opponents to barrel up the ball. In 2018, Loup had a groundball percentage (GB%) of 49.2% At the same time, his barrel percentage was 4.1%. He missed the majority of the 2019 season due to an elbow injury, but in 2020 hitters were seeing the ball much clearer against him.”

I agree with the folks at District on Deck, that Loup would be a great addition to the bullpen which needs some major help next year and would come at a reasonable price. According to Sports Trac Aaron Loup only made 3M with 250,000.00 in incentives.

RHP Max Scherzer

I don’t necessarily think that this is will happen, but I think that you can’t have a discussion about possible additions to the Nationals rotation than our former number one starter: Max Scherzer.

Related Article: Perspective: Don’t Worry Nationals Fans no matter what happens next; Max Scherzer will forever be a Washington National

We all know that Scherzer was sent to the LA Dodgers in late July in a blockbuster trade, and he might be winning his #4 CY Young Award this offseason and even another World Series Ring with the Dodgers. Both Scherzer and Rizzo have openly said that it is possible for a Scherzer reunion, and I am sure that fans would open Scherzer back with open arms.

This move would be just like what the Yankees did with the Chicago Cubs back in 2016 when the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs at the 2016 trade deadline, for a bunch of prospects and then during that offseason after the Cubs won the World Series, Chapman returned to the New York Yankees along with all the prospects that the team got from Chicago. (Just in case you need a reminder of who the Yankees got in return here you go: Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford). By the way, Torres had a great 2021 season with a batting average of .259, 9 home runs, 119 hits, and an OPS of .697

In “House Solutions”

Out of all the possible signings, this might be the course that Mike Rizzo and Co, goes. He could just do a couple of one-year signings for Joe Ross, sign Erik Fedde, and just piece everything together for the year until one of the Nationals pitching prospects are ready to play in the majors. (We are talking about Cade Cavalli, Jackson Rutledge, and Cole Henry). They could go to the bullpen and possibly eat up some innings once they are in the show.

Related Article: Perspective: Call Me Crazy, but I’m excited about the Nats future

No matter what happens and who the Nationals sign during the offseason, it is going to be a while until the Nationals once again have what could be considered one of the best starting rotations in the MLB. It might never happen again, who knows… We will just have to wait and see.

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