Battle For The Number Five Spot
Although there doesn’t appear to be a competition for any spots in the Nationals starting rotation, the number five spot is something I will be watching this spring. I don’t thin the Nats would take Tanner Roark out of the rotation because they want Roark to get back into the routine that helped him have a successful 2014 (15-10, 2.85 ERA)
To me, that number five spot comes down to Joe Ross and Bronson Arroyo. The Nats signed Arroyo to a minor league deal last month, but he hasn’t pitched since June 2014 because of Tommy John surgery. However, Arroyo did pitch for Dusty Baker when Baker managed the Reds.
Ross was one of the good surprises from last season. He made his debut in May after the Nats acquired him in a deal from the Padres last offseason along with Trea Turner. He went 5-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 76.2 innings (152.2 if you count the minors).
If Arroyo is able to make a good impression this spring, I do think he has a good chance to make the team, even if it’s only for the reason to keep Ross’ innings down to start the season. Remember as the season went on last year, Ross lost his strong command of his pitches and started to wear down. Plus, a strong start from Arroyo would mean the Nats would have more pitching reinforcements down the stretch with young talent such as Ross and non-roster invitees Lucas Giolito and Austin Voth.
Next: Pitching Youth Movement