Who should be the Nationals Opening Day Starter?

The Nationals have not had a true ace in their rotation since the departure of Max Scherzer via trade, leaving the spot for Opening Day starter up to best pitcher available. After Patrick Corbin got the nod the past couple seasons despite subpar performance, who should get the nod this season?

Sep 11, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Washington Nationals pitching coach Jim Hickey (48)
Sep 11, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Nationals pitching coach Jim Hickey (48) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
4 of 5

The Incumbent

Patrick Corbin

As previously mentioned, Patrick Corbin has been the Nationals Opening Day starter for the past three seasons, large in part due to being the only veteran/recognizable name in the Nationals' rotation due to the trade of Max Scherzer and the career ending injury to Stephen Strasburg.

How has Corbin faired in those three Opening Day starts?

Not great.

Corbin is 0-3 in those three starts allowing 12 runs (10 earned) in 11.1 innings against the Dodgers, Mets and Braves respectively, good for an 8.10 ERA. Even by Patrick Corbin standards, that is abysmal.

Corbin did not pitch past 4.1 innings in any of those starts, which came against the Dodgers back in 2021. He pitched even less of the game in 2022 and 2023, only lasting 4 innings against the Mets in 2022 and 3 innings last year against the Braves. He gave up 6 hits, 5 hits and 7 hits in those starts.

So clearly the statistics do not suggest that Corbin should be the Opening Day starter, but Davey Martinez has given him that honor nonetheless. Martinez is big on "earning" it and typically gives more leash, or even favoritism, to the veterans on the team. Will Corbin get that in what is likely his final season with the team?

Despite being instrumental in winning the 2019 World Series, the Patrick Corbin era in DC has taken its toll on fans. Selecting him as this team's Opening Day starter would just be insult to injury.