Washington Nationals: Top Predictions For 2017

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /


Before the trade of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the Chicago White Sox for Adam Eaton, Gio Gonzalez was told he was earning his spot in the rotation in 2017.

Even with those two gone, Gonzalez will battle A.J. Cole and Austin Voth for the spot in West Palm Beach. It will come down to the last week of Spring Training before Gonzalez has a bad game and Cole puts together a solid five-inning stint to take the job up north.

Now, injuries and a couple bad performances gets Gonzalez back into the rotation, but watch for this storyline to develop going forward.

With Max Scherzer pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, there will be room for the younger starters to get the innings Scherzer would normally have, as long as the US team survives.

One question asked of Gonzalez last year was his mental fortitude once he slumped last year. If not for the injury to Stephen Strasburg before the playoffs, you could make the argument Gonzalez would have pitched from the bullpen in the NL Divisional Series and Joe Ross would start Game 4.

In one of the rare roster battles the Nats face this year, Gonzalez might be the odd man out. How he handles it tells us plenty on the direction of 2017.