1) Washington Nationals
2019 Stats: W/L 66-36, 3.53 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 21.4 fWAR
Some will believe I allowed bias to cloud my judgment, but the truth is that the Washington Nationals rotation speaks for itself. Future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer is the team’s ace. The three-time Cy Young winner had another productive year in 2019, going 11-7, with a 2.92 ERA, and 243 strikeouts, while leading the league in FIP with a 2.45. 2019 was the first time in his career that he landed on the IL. He suffered back injuries down the stretch and missed his World Series Game Five start due to a neck injury. The extended time off will allow for Scherzer to fully recover and go back to his old self. Despite the injuries, Scherzer still finished third in NL Cy Young voting.
Following Scherzer is 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. After years of battling injuries, Strasburg was finally able to stay healthy in 2019. He finished the season 18-6, with a 3.32 ERA, and 251 strikeouts, but really took his game to another level in the playoffs. The 30-year-old finished the team’s World Series run, 5-0, with a 1.98 ERA, and 47 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. This led to him opting out of his contract and re-signing with the team for seven years worth $245 million.
Patrick Corbin is the best number three starter in the game. Many sports analysts were skeptical after Corbin signed a six-year deal worth $140 million with the Nationals. The lefty lived up to the contract and then some. In his first year with the team, he went 14-7, with a 3.25 ERA, and 238 strikeouts.
The veteran Anibal Sanchez is the team’s fifth starter. No longer relying on power, Sanchez has reinvented himself as a pitcher that uses finesse. After starting the 2019 season 0-6 with a 5.10 ERA he was placed on the IL. Once he returned, Sanchez went to work and finished the season 11-7, with a 3.85 ERA, 134 strikeouts. In-Game One of the 2019 NLCS, Sanchez had a no-hitter through 7.2/3 innings, before allowing a single to Carlos Martinez.
One thing to keep an eye on is Sanchez’s peripherals. While he was able to lower his K/BB from the season before, his K/9 decreased. Sanchez also saw his FIP balloon from a 3.62 to a 4.44. According to Fangraphs, his 4.44 FIP was below average.
The only weakness in the Nationals rotation is their fifth starter. The fifth starter was originally Joe Ross, but he announced he was opting out. Now, the fifth spot will go to Austin Voth.