The 2019 World Series winning Washington Nationals took home the trophy after nobody expected them to thanks in large part to a rotation featuring four aces in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez.
With all four returning with the Nats for the 2020 season, their rotation was clearly the strongest part of their roster, but after such a dominant showing in 2019, their rotation completely fell apart.
Their two-time Cy Young Winner, Scherzer, missed a chunk of the season, and didn’t put up Scherzer-like numbers when he was healthy. Strasburg pitched just 5 innings in the entire season. Corbin struggled posting an ERA and FIP above 4. Sanchez was just downright awful, allowing 39 earned runs on 11 long balls, and 70 hits in 53 innings. Sanchez also has a contract option for 2021 for $18 million, or a buyout for $6 million. After the season he had, there’s a good chance they buy him out.
Their other starters who filled in for injuries struggled as well. Former top prospect Erick Fedde has yet to find his footing in the big leagues. After a solid 2019 season serving as the Nationals’ fifth starter, Austin Voth struggled even more than Anibal did. Prospect Will Crowe gave up 5 home runs in 8.1 innings.
Even if their big three in Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin do bounceback, they do not have an answer for their last two spots. With such a powerful 1-3, they’re likely not going to pursue another ace like Trevor Bauer, the top free agent starter available. However, Fedde, Voth, and Crowe all had FIP’s above six, with Crowe sitting at 12.31. None of that trio should be a 4th and 5th starter for a team looking to compete.