During a shortened 2020 season, a lot of pitchers got way less than innings than in previous seasons. This could be useful to them in that they could have used the extra time off to keep their arm healthy. With the 2021 season set to be a full one, the pitchers can find themselves pitching closer to what they are used to, including a pitching rotation. Here is a look at the Washington Nationals potential pitching rotation to start the 2021 season.
1. Max Scherzer
Since 2013, Max Scherzer has won three Cy Young awards and finished in the top five of the voting every year except for 2020. However, he still had a solid ERA of 3.74 through 12 starts in 2020, although that number is pretty high for his standards. That was his highest in a single season since 2012 when it was also a 3.74 ERA. Scherzer is turning 37 in July, but he hasn’t really slowed down until last year, which could have been due to a plethora of factors outside of him being older. With a season set to go all 162 games this year, Scherzer will have a chance to return to Cy Young form as the ace of the Washington Nationals rotation.
It’s no secret that Stephen Strasburg has battled multiple injuries throughout his career and limited his number of starts. In 2019, he stayed pretty healthy and pitched over 200 innings for the first time since 2014. The 32-year-old posted a 3.32 ERA that year, with an even lower 1.98 ERA in 36 1/3 Postseason innings in 2019. The next season, Strasburg had two outings for a total of five innings before having season-ending surgery on his right hand. Multiple pitchers opted to miss last years shortened season to have surgery, but now he looks ready to go for the 2021 season.
In 2020, Patrick Corbin posted a 4.66 ERA in 11 starts. He had the best two-year streak of his career the years prior to a shaky 2020. In 2018, Corbin made his second career All-Star game in a year where he pitched 200 innings, struck out 246 batters and had a 3.15 ERA. His numbers the next season were similar as he pitched just two more innings (202) and compiled a 3.25 ERA with only eight less punch outs. Consistency at a level like that is huge for an MLB pitcher, and with more innings to pitch in 2021, Corbin can get back to that form from the past few seasons prior to 2020.
4. Jon Lester
The now 37-year-old Jon Lester posted a 5.16 ERA in 13 starts last season. After noticing a pattern of pitchers with a high ERA in 2020, Scherzer’s 3.74 ERA last year is looking better and better. Unlike the other guys mentioned so far on this list, Lester didn’t only have a rough 2020, but he struggled in 2019 as well. The southpaw had a 4.46 ERA in 171 2/3 innings that year. He also allowed over 200 hits in a single season for the first time since 2013.The Nationals have had a solid pitching rotation for several years now, and that can help Lester get back to his numbers from years ago.
5. Multiple Options
Austin Voth, Erick Feede and Joe Ross are three options for the final spot in the rotation. Depending on how spring training goes, it may even be someone else. Joe Ross easily has the best big league stats of the three pitchers mentioned. Ross currently has a career 4.29 ERA in over 330 innings pitched. Voth and Feede are both slightly over a 5.00 ERA in under 200 big league innings. With that thought process, Ross could be the guy there to start the season, but it could be subject to change as the season rolls along.
Featured image courtesy of ESPN.