One obvious option that Matt Williams will have is the Nationals’ former first overall draft pick, Stephen Strasburg.
With the controversial innings limit from 2012 behind him, Strasburg had a solid season with the Nationals in 2013, going 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA and 191 strikeouts. Don’t let the losing record fool you, as the 25-year-old Strasburg was still one of the best pitchers in the league last season.
Strasburg, who started the year as the team’s ace, finished sixth in the league in WHIP (1.049), fourth in the league in K/9IP (4.393), and his 3.00 ERA was good for eighth in the league. These are the numbers that tell the real story and show that Strasburg was dominant in 2013, despite running into bad luck.
Bad luck wasn’t the only issue for Strasburg, as he also played through some injuries over the course of the season. Strasburg missed two starts in September due to forearm tightness that was likely caused by loose bodies in his elbow. Despite missing time on the disabled list, Strasburg insists that the injury did not affect him on the mound.
“With the way loose bodies work, it’s that when you get hot and you get the blood flow, your arm straightens out and you feel normal,” Strasburg said at NatsFest on Saturday. “It was really the day after, trying to play catch and trying to throw a bullpen when it became a little difficult trying to get my arm and elbow back and flexible because of the loose bodies in there. It really wasn’t a game out there where I feel that it affecting my pitching.”
Strasburg had surgery early in the offseason to remove the loose bodies and he is confident that he will be healthy and ready to go for Spring Training.
“Everything that I hear and everything that I’m expecting is that it’ll feel normal,” Strasburg said. “I’m doing my normal offseason routine. And, I don’t feel like there’s any reason why I should be held back in spring training.”
If Strasburg is in fact healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in the Cy Young Award discussion at the end of the season. Strasburg has already experienced great success in the big leagues and he’s poised to play even better in 2014.