3. Starting Pitcher
Have the Nationals improved their pitching staff over the past couple seasons? Yes. Are they still one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball? Also yes.
Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore are a great start, but they would not be enough even if they were not going through their early-career struggles. Gray was an All Star last season, but struggled in the second half before salvaging his season en route to a sub 4 ERA to lead the staff. Gore flashed his potential as a rookie, but still struggles with command and putting away hitters consistently. Both are a part of the future, but both are not particularly close to reliable just yet.
The rest of the staff is rough. Patrick Corbin at the very least ate innings last year, but still posted an ERA above 5 and is still the worst pitcher in baseball since 2020. One more year, folks.
The Trevor Williams starter turned reliever turned back into a starter experiment could not have gone any worse. The Nationals thought they could outsmart other teams and make Williams a viable starter when everyone else saw him better as a reliever. Turns out the other teams were right. Who could have seen this coming.
The rest of the options are fine, but no one stands out as a 3/4 option in a staff and certainly not as a frontline option. Jake Irvin was a nice surprise and emerged as serviceable 5 starter. I am sure we will see more of Joan Adon and Jackson Rutledge in 2024, but neither has secured a rotation spot yet and may not be ready to at this point.
The Free Agent starting pitching market is expensive, so it may be unrealistic based on the Nationals' recent habits. Both Corbin and Williams come off the books after this season so next offseason may be when the Nationals decide to address their rotation. If they were smart, they would get a head start on that effort now.
Possible Fits: Michael Lorenzen, Alex Wood, James Paxton, Eric Lauer