The Washington Nationals 2017 World Series hopes will be heavily reliant on their rotation’s ability to remain healthy.
The Washington Nationals disappointed many with their failure to make a deep playoff run. But, that was partially due to injuries late in the season including catcher Wilson Ramos and pitcher Stephen Strasburg. They were both huge blows to the Nationals World Series hopes.
If the Nationals want to make a World Series run in 2017, they will need Strasburg, as well as the rest of their rotation, to remain healthy.
In 2016, the Nationals rotation was loaded with elite arms such as now two-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and lifelong National Stephen Strasburg. However, Strasburg suffered a devastating elbow injury mid-season.
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His elbow woes were a huge blow to the Nationals World Series aspirations, starting only 24 games in 2016.
It was the second straight year that Strasburg couldn’t crack 25 starts. He’s struggled to stay on the field. Whether it’s his workload, his offseason training, his training staff, or even if he’s just unlucky, Strasburg has to be healthy enough to crank out at least 30 starts, and pitch in the postseason. He isn’t the only Nationals starter who’s health is key to their 2017 success.
Fellow righty Joe Ross is another key component to the Nationals success.
Last year Ross got off to a hot start, looking like one of the game’s best young arms, but then injury hit, which kept him of the field for over two months. When he returned he was okay, but not great. He never pitched at or over six innings in his return. He also didn’t show up in a big way in his postseason start against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ross surrendered four earned runs in just 2.2 innings pitched. His absence from the field was a big reason for his postseason struggles and, in order to pitch well next Fall, he needs to remain healthy.
Ross’ ability to stay on the field is just as crucial as Strasburg’s, especially when you take into account the mega-deal the Nationals made at this year’s Winter Meetings.
At the 2016 Winter Meetings, the Nationals made a very controversial deal for Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton. Eaton is a more than serviceable outfielder, who is on a very team friendly deal, but the package the Nationals had to surrender for him was very alarming.
They dealt top pitching prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, as well as Dane Dunning. Was Eaton worth a package of that magnitude? Probably not, but the Nationals felt that they needed to get another outfielder, and they did just that. But, they’re now in a very worrying situation with their rotation.
While the Nationals rotation will feature the same five as last year (Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark, Gonzalez, Ross), the Nationals are now forced to ponder whether Strasburg and/or Ross will undergo yet another injury which could be detrimental to a deep postseason run.
If that does transpire, the Nationals would have to turn to either A.J. Cole or Erick Fedde (who hasn’t yet made his major league debut) to take their spot in the rotation. An injury to Strasburg or Ross could put the Nationals in the same worrying predicament as last year.
The Nationals window is closing rapidly, and if they want to take advantage of the opportunity they have at their disposal, they’ll need their rotation to stay healthy, more specifically Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross.