Washington Nationals: Projecting the production of the starting rotation

MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Stephen Strasburg
MIAMI, FL - JULY 10: Stephen Strasburg /
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It’s no secret that the Washington Nationals have an elite starting rotation. After a dominant 2017 campaign, could they possibly improve in 2018?

Throughout their brief history, the Washington Nationals have typically been built on pitching. That is not a slight to their offense, as their potent lineup is among the best in the league, but pitching has been their heart and soul.

This was certainly the case in 2017, which was especially evident when Max Scherzer took home his second consecutive Cy Young Award. To make things even sweeter for the Nats, Stephen Strasburg finished third in voting.

Now, four of the five starters from the Nats’ 2017 rotation will return. Joe Ross, who served as the fifth starter last year, will be forced to miss at least the first half of 2018 while he recovers from Tommy John Surgery.

The other major change is the pitching coach. Mike Maddux did a phenomenal job over the last two years, but was dismissed along with most of the coaching staff.

To replace Maddux, the Nats brought in Derek Lilliquist, an experienced and well-respected pitching coach. Lilliquist spent the last seven years filling the same role for the Cardinals, where he oversaw some of the best pitching staffs in recent memory.

Lilliquist’s job is relatively easy, considering the staff he has at his disposal, but it will be interesting to see the kind of impact he can make in DC.

Finally, the Nats have a new backup catcher to handle the pitching staff. Jose Lobaton was an adored member of the team for the last few years, but he is now replaced by veteran Miguel Montero.

While Montero does not have a great arm, he is a solid defensive catcher. Dave Martinez raves about his game management skills and pitch framing abilities, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the pitching staff.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the FanGraphs projections for the Nats’ starting rotation.