The Washington Nationals are in the midst of a major rebuild, one that’s already seen the exists of Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Max Scherzer. This rebuild has left the Nats in a very different position than where the team was just four years ago, when Washington won the franchise’s first World Series crown. Washington’s rotation did not perform well in 2022, but a number of young starters could take positive steps forward in 2023. With that said, let’s take a look at what the Nationals rotation could look like this upcoming season.
A Look at the Nationals Rotation Options
Let’s take a look at how the Nationals rotation could look in 2023:
- LHP Patrick Corbin (6-19, 6.31 ERA, 7.5 K/9 in 2022)
- RHP Josiah Gray (7-10, 5.02 ERA, 9.3 K/9)
- RHP Trevor Williams (3-5, 3.21 ERA, 8.4 K/9)
- LHP MacKenzie Gore (4-4, 4.50 ERA, 9.26 K/9)
- RHP Paolo Espino (0-9, 4.84 ERA, 7.7 K/9)
The Nats are set to return a familiar trio to Washington, in veteran Patrick Corbin, Paolo Espino, and youngster Josiah Gray. Let’s start off with Corbin, who has seen a precipitous drop in production since the Nationals’ World Series win in 2019. Corbin’s 5.82 ERA from 2020-22 is the worst in baseball among pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings over that time. The left-hander’s stuff in recent seasons been far from what it was in 2019, when Corbin struck out 238 and won 14 games. Yet, the lefty is set to be a part of the Nationals rotation come 2023.
Starter/reliever Paolo Espino saw time in the rotation last season, and it’s quite possible that the 36-year-old could be back in the rotation for 2023 should Cade Cavalli and Joan Adon not crack the roster. Espino doesn’t possess overpowering stuff, but does own a pretty decent curveball that was his primary out pitch, and decent control.
Then, there’s Josiah Gray. Gray averaged over a strikeout per inning, but got himself in trouble far too often thanks to poor control and command. The 25-year-old did induce plenty of weak contact and whiffs in 2022 thanks to an above-average slider and a good fastball, a good sign for this upcoming season.
Now, let’s look at the newcomers. Former Mets RHP Trevor Williams fit well in a “swiss army” role last season, as he pitched to the tune of a 3.21 ERA in Queens last season. Williams is a starter by trade, though. Now with the Nationals, the veteran righty is set to get that chance in D.C. this season.
Washington’s rotation should also feature LHP MacKenzie Gore. Acquired in the Juan Soto deal, Gore has been among the game’s elite pitching prospects since being selected third overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. The 23-year-old owns a plus curve, to go along with a good fastball & slider. Washington didn’t see Gore in a National uniform last year, but that should change come 2023.
Aside from those five, the Nationals could see Joan Adon and Cade Cavalli back in DC. Cavalli is the team’s top prospect, as the former Oklahoma product dominated in the Minors in 2021 and 2022. The 24-year-old righty got lit up in his first start in the Majors, but should factor into the equation this season. Adon, on the other hand, saw quite a bit of time in Washington last year. It didn’t go well for the young righty, as Adon went 1-12 with a 7.10 ERA.
Also, we can’t forget about Stephen Strasburg. The star pitcher has dealt with a myriad of injuries over the past three seasons, including Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The 35-year-old made just one start last season, and it went poorly. Strasburg gave up seven earned runs in 4.2 innings, and worked with velocity far from what fans have seen from the former top MLB Draft pick. Strasburg’s mean fastball velocity in lone start was 90.3 MPH, a significant drop from his 93.9 MPH mean from 2019. It’s next to near impossible to count on Strasburg to be healthy for 2023, but he is in the background.