Washington Nationals: Predicting the Opening Day roster after latest cuts

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Starting rotation

The Nats’ roster was mostly set when spring training began, but one of the few roster battles laid within the starting rotation. The first four of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark was obvious, but the fifth spot was up for grabs.

A.J. Cole entered the season as the frontrunner, and while Erick Fedde, Milone, and Jackson put up a good fight, Cole ultimately won the job.

Cole was almost guaranteed a spot on the roster due to the fact that he is out of options, but he earned the rotation spot, as opposed to being converted to a long reliever.

However, Cole may not last long in the rotation. He had a bit of a shaky spring, pitching to a 4.85 ERA in four starts. He struggled to find the zone at times, issuing five walks in four innings in his final spring outing, which must improve during the season.

If Cole cannot harness his control, Jeremy Hellickson may take over the fifth spot in the rotation.

Hellickson was signed very late into spring training, so he will not be ready for Opening Day, but he has made a good impression thus far.

In Hellickson’s first spring outing, he allowed just one run on three hits and a walk in four innings. Although he was limited to about 60 pitches, he made a great impression, especially considering that was his first appearance of the spring.

The rotation is set for now, but that doesn’t mean it will remain the same come May.