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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Max Scherzer

3.39 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 5.0 WAR

Max Scherzer, the indisputable ace of the Nats’ staff, is arguably the best pitcher in the league. He has been named the National League Cy Young Award winner in two consecutive seasons, which brings his career total to three.

Now, Scherzer will attempt to continue his stretch of greatness.

2017 was a special season for Scherzer because of what he had to overcome. He got a late start to spring training while he recovered from a knuckle injury, and then he pitched with an altered fastball grip upon returning.

Then, after his knuckle finally healed, he dealt with other minor injuries throughout the year. These hardly affected him, however, as he still produced his typical dominant season.

Now that Scherzer is healthy to begin the year, could he be even better in 2018? Some might say so, but FanGraphs projects some regression for the Nats’ ace.

According to the FanGraphs Steamer projection, he will pitch to a 3.39 ERA, which would be his highest since 2012. While Scherzer is an elite starting pitcher, he could begin to regress soon.

Scherzer will be 34 when the season ends, which is past when pitchers typically begin to decline. He has somehow beaten Father Time thus far, but he will likely begin to decline soon. His ERA may not drop nearly a whole point like FanGraphs projects, but we should realistically expect some regression in the near future.

A 3.39 ERA is not up to the lofty standards that Scherzer has set, but the Nats would still take that from their ace.