Starting Rotation: B-
While the Washington Nationals didn’t have Strasburg much at all this month, Joe Ross did return to the rotation on September 18. Ross made three starts and had a 2.79 ERA in only 9.2 innings. Still, he made a good impression in those games and he should play a pivotal role in the postseason. As a team, the Nats finished September with a 3.88 ERA (sixth in the NL)
When you talk about the starting rotation, the conversation starts with Max Scherzer. In five starts, Scherzer was 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA and he had 39 strikeouts (third most in the NL). Tomorrow afternoon, he will have the chance to be the only NL pitcher with 20 wins this season.
Another pitcher who had a good month of September was Tanner Roark. While Roark had a 2.79 ERA, he went 1-3 in five starts. The problem for Roark was that the Washington Nationals only scored 11 runs in Roark’s outings (one run or fewer three times). Still, the right-hander had three straight months of a sub-three ERA.
One of Roark’s tough luck losses came on September 20 against the Miami Marlins when the Nats lost 1-0. The pitcher that Roark lost to that night was Jose Fernandez in what ended up being his last start. Fernandez died in a boating accident five days later.
A.J. Cole did get his first career win on September 3 against the New York Mets at Citi Field. After that win, Cole went 0-1 in his final five starts and never went past five innings in any of those games.
Right now, the worst pitcher in this rotation is the lone left-hander, Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez went 1-2 with a 7.43 ERA in five starts and teams were hitting .343 against him compared to .208 in August. He will be expected to play a pivotal role in the NLDS against a Dodgers team that struggles to hit against lefties.
Heading into October, the Washington Nationals can trust in Scherzer and Roark to put up quality outings. With the injury to Strasburg, it will be up to Gonzalez and Ross to pick up the rest of the slack going forward.