Nationals: Ranking The Nats Needs At The 2021 Trade Deadline

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: General manager Mike Rizzo looks on during batting practice before a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: General manager Mike Rizzo looks on during batting practice before a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the second inning at Nationals Park on April 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Nationals Deadline Need #1: Rotation Depth

After years of dominance, Washington’s starting rotation has become a hindrance. The vaulted “Big Three” of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin is a shell of its former self. Scherzer is having another Cy Young caliber season, posting a 2.83 ERA across 18 starts.

Strasburg is on the IL for the second time this year and has only thrown 21.2 innings. Corbin has lost any resemblance of his 2019 self. He boasts a 5.66 ERA and has posted -1.0 bWAR. Behind them, Jon Lester, Erick Fedde, Joe Ross, and Paolo Espino haven’t fared much better.

The rotation ranks 18th in ERA (4.26), 22nd in FIP (4.53), and 20th in fWAR (5.4). With over $90 million invested in the “Big Three”, the rotation has come nowhere close to living up to the money. To make matters worst, since July one the rotation is 5-12, with a 6.24 ERA. Reinforcements are a must.

Pitching will be a hot commodity at the deadline with teams vying for Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, and Zach Davies. Due to Washington’s empty farm, they need to set their eyes on lower-profile names.

Enter Merrill Kelly. The 32-year-old is 6-7, with a 4.26 ERA, 99 strikeouts, and a 3.88 FIP. One of Arizona’s best starters this year, the rebuilding club should look to flip the righty and continue stockpiling the farm.

Strasburg’s return from the IL will be a boost, but adding another arm is a must.

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