Washington Nationals: The State Of The Franchise
By Ron Juckett
STATE OF PITCHING
Okay, if there is one point where the concern is legitimate as we focus on Spring Training, it is here.
Three weeks from West Palm Beach, we have no idea who will close for the Nationals. Yes, that is a problem. The focus in-house shifts from Shawn Kelley to Sammy Solis with Blake Treinen thrown in. Mark Melancon departed for the San Francisco Giants while Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman teased, but went elsewhere.
Greg Holland remains a free agent, but the Nats hope as the days tick by that his demands drop. It is a game of chicken.
Outside of that, the starting rotation is among the game’s elite. With Stephen Strasburg recovered from his flexor mass strain and Max Scherzer coming off a freak stress fracture in his pitching ring finger, the front four for Washington matches with the Chicago Cubs.
Tanner Roark might be the most underrated starter in the NL. Remember, his ERA was lower than Scherzer’s in 2016.
Although Gio Gonzalez is no longer a threat to win 20, if he can get you six innings a start as the fifth starter, you are in great shape. Granted depth is an issue if the injury bug hits, but you can say that for any team.
The state of the staff could be better, but the starters can go deep most nights. If the bullpen is not overtaxed, it will survive as the closer issue sorts itself out.