Washington Nationals: Takeaways From First Ten Games Of Spring Training
Starting Rotation Shutting Out Opponents
Right now, Max Scherzer has yet to appear in a spring training game because of his knuckle injury. However, he has been making bullpen sessions and using a three-finger grip for his fastball instead of his traditional four-finger grip.
While Scherzer has yet to take the mound, the other four projected starters are off to good starts. Stephen Strasburg, Joe Ross, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez have yet to give up a run in 15 combined innings.
Roark has thrown the most innings on staff because he will be pitching for Team USA on Saturday night against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic (6:30 p.m ET, MLB Network). Last Monday, Roark faced the Cardinals and had four strikeouts over three innings. Then, yesterday, he shut out the Twins over four innings, giving up two hits, and struck out three.
Outside of Scherzer, the big story in the rotation is Strasburg’s new mechanics. He made his spring debut on Friday and was pitching from the stretch instead of out of the windup. He did strike out three over two innings. It will be interesting to watch this season whether or not pitching exclusively from the stretch will keep the right-hander healthy.
Right now, Gonzalez appears to be pitching with a lot of confidence. The left-hander has made two starts and has given up one hit in four innings. While spring numbers shouldn’t be taken too seriously, it would be good for him to go into the regular season on a high note.
Finally, Ross got to pitch last Wednesday against the Tigers. While he had a tough first inning, he did get out of his outing unscathed.
However, one starter who has struggled is A.J. Cole. Cole, who could be up at the big league level if Scherzer or any of the starters miss time, has given up eight runs (seven earned) in two starts. Right now, you could make the case non-roster invitee Vance Worley has the early lead in the long relief job over him.
If the Washington Nationals are going to accomplish their ultimate goal of a title, their starting rotation will have to be the star. So far, in camp, everyone is off to a good start.