Washington Nationals: Projecting The 2018 Starting Rotation

The calendar has turned, and we are officially over three weeks into 2018. You know what that means baseball fans? The MLB season is not too far away! For the Washington Nationals, their first home Spring Training game in West Palm Beach, Florida is just over a month away (February 25th).

For the Nationals, their top end spots are locked in. But for the backend of the rotation, there could be some competition. So those Spring games will be extremely important in determining who rounds out the top five to open the 2018 MLB season. We are here to give you a breakdown of what to expect. Below is our projected 2018 starting rotation for the Washington Nationals.

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  1. Max Scherzer, Right-Handed – There is no denying who the ace of the National’s starting rotation is. While the team has several well-known arms on the team, there is no bigger than the reigning NL Cy Young Winner, who is a three-time winner of the award, Max Scherzer. Coming off a season in which he struck out 268 men over 200 and two-thirds innings, along with a 2.51 ERA and outstanding 0.90 WHIP, Max is a lock for Opening Day for the Nats.
  2. Stephen Strasburg, Right-Handed – For many teams, Strasburg would be the ace. However, there is no shame in being the number two behind an arm like Scherzer’s. Stras is in the prime of his career, as he enters his age 29 season. Last season he spun a 2.52 ERA (practically the same as Max!), 1.02 WHIP and 204 strikeouts over the course of 175 and a third innings. Those are ace-caliber numbers for sure. So you can pencil him in as the two here without hesitation.
  3. Gio Gonzalez, Left-Handed – The 32-year-old is coming off a bounce-back season. Two seasons ago, Gio had an ERA over 4.50 but brought that number back down to 2.96 in 2017. His 1.18 WHIP was the second best number he has posted in his career. While he struck out 188 batters in just over 200 innings. Sure he is due to regress this season, as most of his underlying metrics point to last season’s numbers being buoyed by some luck. But that does not matter as we enter 2018, where Gio is pretty much set in stone as the team’s number three.
  4. Tanner Roark, Right-Handed – Roark is coming off a season that was far from his best. He was not terrible, but he honestly was not all that good either. But at the end of the day, he is still a typical back-end of the rotation type of arm. He showed in 2016 what he is capable of when he posted a sub-3 ERA. Last season he was at 4.67 with a 1.33 WHIP. Those are likely the better indicators of what to expect than his 2016 breakout. Going into Spring Training, he would need a total meltdown to be left off the starting five, however.
  5. Erick Fedde, Right-Handed – When the Nats report to West Palm Beach in about a month, there will be a three-man battle for this last spot. Edwin Jackson, Erick Fedde and A.J. Cole will all have their fair share of earning this slot. The two young guys are going to have to be pretty bad for the journeyman Jackson to win the job. Given Cole has had issues with lefties and keeping the ball in the yard, the projected outcome gives the edge to the former first-round pick Fedde. The 24-year-old rookie has pitched in just three MLB games. He has had minimal success but will get a chance to prove himself out of camp.

How do you see the Washington Nationals starting rotation shaking out for the upcoming 2018 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!

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