Do the Nats Need an Ace?

It’s the offseason, so rather than talking about things that are actually happen, much of what we hear are just rumors. The latest rumor for the Nationals is certainly an interesting one:

Not that they couldn’t use another starting pitcher, but the thought that they are pursuing a front line guy is a little surprising to me. Because, you know, they have 3 front line starters.

It’s not homer-ism to say that Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are among the best in the league. It’s not projection, either, imagining what their ceilings might be.

They had, in fact, the 4th best top 3 in the NL this past season, by WAR.

  1. Dodgers, 12.5 WAR (Kershaw- 6.5, Ryu – 3.1, Greinke – 2.9)
  2. Cardinals, 11.6 WAR (Wainwright – 6.2, Lynn – 3.3, Miller – 2.1)
  3. Phillies, 11 WAR (Lee – 5.1, Hamels – 4.2, Kendrick – 1.7)
  4. Nationals, 9.9 WAR (JZimm – 3.6, Strasburg – 3.2, Gio – 3.1)
  5. Reds, 9.7 WAR (Latos – 4.4, Bailey – 3.7, Leake – 1.6)

Looking at this list, the Nats end up in an interesting place. In a sentence, they basically had the worst #1 pitcher of the group, but the most balanced top 3. JZimmSo is there room for a “true Ace”? Sure there is. Some of us believe that Strasburg is that guy, would have been this year if he had pitched later in games, and will likely be next season. Others are tired of waiting for the 25 year old to fulfill his promise and have a completely dominant season.

Knowing where they rank certainly gives some insight into what the Nats should be doing with their pitching staff. I do worry that investing in too much pitching just won’t really improve them enough to make a trade or even a signing worthwhile. There probably isn’t a free agent ace out there, so if they go after someone of that level, you’re probably talking losing a real prospect or two. Or maybe even JZimm, who is only under team control until the end of 2015.

On the other hand, they probably do need to go out and get one starting pitcher this offseason, rather than relying first on Ross Detwiler, who didn’t finish 2013 healthy. And that’s only as the number 4 guy, the #5 pitcher is even more fingers-crossed hopefulness (although based on some very promising seasons from guys like Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark and Ross Ohlendorf). So the thought might be, why get an innings-eating middle/bottom of the rotation guy, why not just go all in?

So what do you think?


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2 thoughts on “Do the Nats Need an Ace?

  1. The problem with this speculation is this: you just don’t know if its going to be a good deal until you do it. So the answer is “Yes The nats should trade” for another Ace if the cost isn’t prohibitive. And the answer is also, “No the Nats shouldn’t gut the farm system” if they are getting Price for 2 years and a ton of salary but it costs us half our top 10.

    I find it hard to believe Scherzer gets traded, for what its worth.

    A better speculation may be Brett Anderson, who plays for the wheeling and dealing Billy Beane team and who have done lots of deals with us in the recent past. You could put together a simple package for him and roll the dice; he could be fantastic or he could be another injury-plagued dud. But you know Beane wants to make that deal b/c of the dollars Anderson is owed.

  2. You’re right in that we don’t really know what kind of deal might be available.

    Brett Anderson is definitely interesting. At least above average, at times brilliant, never healthy. I’d be pretty wary of thinking that he’d be anything more than a 6th starter and if he ended up starting 15-20 games you’d consider yourself lucky. Not a bad get, if you trade him for that sort of value…

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