Best Rotation in Decades: Nats on Pace for 100 Wins?

The Nationals were arguably the best team in the National League, if not the whole major leagues, in 2014, when they won 96 games on their way to comfortably winning the NL East. Their pitching was superb, producing an ERA of 3.03, which was the lowest. They had 3 rotation men with an ERA of fewer than 3, including the #4, Tanner Roark, going 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA. The rest of the rotation consisted of Jordan Zimmermann, strikeout specialist Stephen Strasburg, veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez, and former Tiger Doug Fister. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t good enough to overcome the Nats’ lack of playoff experience, as they lost in the first round to the eventual WS champs, the Giants (who had great pitching too).

Doug Fister, according to multiple reports, will again be teammates with the former Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. Yes that’s right, the Nationals out of the blue (or should it be red) signed the ace pitcher to a 7-year $210 million deal (average of $30 million/year). Just take a breath for a minute and look at this rotation for what they did in 2014:


  1. Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 252 K’s)
  2. Jordan Zimmermann (14-5, 2.66 ERA, 1.072 WHIP, 5 complete games, no-hitter)
  3. Stephen Strasburg (14-11, 3.14 ERA, 10.1 K/9, led the league in K’s)
  4. Doug Fister (16-6, 2.41 ERA, 1.079 WHIP)
  5. Tanner Roark (15-10, 2.85 ERA, held opponents to a .231 batting average)
  6. Gio Gonzalez (10-10, 3.02 FIP)


Sure Max Scherzer has been one of the top aces in the majors the last few years, but that is not the most valuable asset he has to bring to DC. What is most significant about this 7-year deal is that it makes Max the automatic #1, which puts aside the confusion and in-team battle for the top rotation spot previously fought for between Strasburg and Zimmermann. The depth and talent of this new Nationals rotation could very well become one of the best in past decades.

Assuming the Nat starters perform in the neighborhood of the 1971 Baltimore Orioles rotation (the numbers state that they can), the Nats should have a legitimate chance at winning 100 games in 2015. But there is still a good chunk of time left until the start of the 2015 campaign, in which there are still a couple small things on the shopping list for Washington. Because of the trade with the A’s that sent Tyler Clippard packing, the Nats only have three top line relievers now, so that is one issue that needs to be addressed. The other area in which needs help, is the depth of Washington’s everyday players, as their lineup is great, but there are not a lot of options off the bench. Those are just the small problems that the team has to deal with, but as far as other road blocks, the NL East is by the way, going to be a whole lot tougher in 2015, with the Marlins and Mets building up their new-look army.

While Washington leans heavily on their starting rotation and the health of the batting lineup, they will have to look to the 2014 manager of the year, Matt Williams, to help them repeat as NL East champs. But with Scherzer signing as a National, the WS odds may very well be in favor of the 2014 NL East champs. Staying healthy and filling the last minute offseason holes, will be key to a possible 100-win season in 2015 for the men in DC.


2 Replies to “Best Rotation in Decades: Nats on Pace for 100 Wins?”

  1. The Nats indeed have a great prospective staff going into 2015. In fact, they may be even better collectively on the field in 2015 than 2014 given Scherzer moving to the NL and Stephen Strasburg due to breakout based on his positive trends late in 2014 and resolution of some mechanical issues affecting his command. It sounds cliche but the Nats will go as far as the offense takes them especially Bryce Harper. As the Giants have proven time and gain recently, the modern game in the playoffs is won with bullpen, defense, and a lack of mistakes. The Nats pen is still a question mark and in those grueling, tight games in October, the Nats will need offense – hence Bryce Harper. He was fearless under the bright lights in 2014 and his confidence and brash style seem to be the “Q” factor the Nats need to push to the next level. Rendon and Zimmerman clearly highly effective performers but not necessarily guys that can lift the whole club as Harper can. In sum – Nats have the talent, but do they have the fire and confidence to win it all.

    • They just recently added Casey Jansen and have a good closer in Drew Storen, so that is a good one-two punch. The Nats also have Jerry Blevins and Matt Thorton in the pen, so all should be good, and it seems like Matt Williams knows how to manage the pen. As far as offense, Harper does need to stay healthy to make an impact, but even without him Washington has Jayson Werth (always very productive), Anthony Rendon (finished 5th in MVP voting), Denard Span (batted over .300 in 2014), Ian Desmond (20+ homer, 90+ RBI power), and Ryan Zimmerman (should bounce back to his all-star form). So, the only question is weather or not the Nats can get over the emotional obstacle of the playoffs and win the Fall Classic.

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