Washington Nationals: 5 candidates to fill final rotation spot

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Jake Arrieta /
4 of 6

Jake Arrieta

One of the biggest names on the free agent market this off-season will be starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. Arrieta broke into the league with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, but struggled and was eventually traded to the Chicago Cubs.

With the Cubs, Arrieta developed into an elite starter. In 2015, he had one of the best individual seasons of all-time, pitching to a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts.

Arrieta has certainly regressed a bit since 2015, but is still among the best pitchers in the league. He pitched through various injuries, mainly a hamstring issue, in 2017, but still managed to pitch to a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts.

In addition to regular season success, Arrieta has been dominant in the postseason. In nine career postseason starts, he has pitched to a 3.08 ERA including a 0.84 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

If the Nats manage to sign Arrieta, he brings an excellent veteran presence and postseason success, two things the Nats should seek this off-season.

Although Arrieta is a terrific pitcher, there is one major concern. He has been near the top of the league in innings pitched every year for the last few years, which has led to him being one of the most used starters in the league. Because of this, there are some concerns that he will eventually burn out.

However, Arrieta’s primary pitch is his sinker. Typically, sinkerballers actually fare better when fatigued because they can get a sharper drop on their sinker. If sinkerballers pitch on too much rest, they tend to struggle because their sinkers do not drop as much.

Because of this, there is reason to believe that the additional innings will not affect Arrieta as much as they would affect most other pitchers.

Since Arrieta has been among the best pitchers in the league over the past few seasons, he will undoubtedly demand a hefty contract. However, the Nats may have an advantage over other potential suitors.

The Nats reportedly have an agreement in place for Dave Martinez to become their next manager, and he was Arrieta’s bench coach in Chicago. If Arrieta enjoyed playing for Martinez and wants to stay with him while also having a great shot to win another World Series, Washington is a perfect destination.

The Nats may deem Arrieta too expensive and find a cheaper alternative, but he could be a phenomenal addition if they manage to sign him.