It is all about the pitching for the Nats

While the 2023 Washington Nationals were compared to the 2010 team, it is not like a parent comparing their own children with a shared DNA. The only similarities between the two teams are the general manager, owners, stadium, and name on the front of the jerseys.

The projected active roster has totally turned over with Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list just like that 2010 team — but that 2010 team knew they would be getting a healthy Strasburg back the following season. The 2024 team knows that their former ace is never coming back, and the starting rotation is a bunch of question marks compared to that 2011 team which was anchored at the end of that season by Stras and Jordan Zimmermann.

“It all starts with starting pitching. Our starting pitching needs to get better, that’s for sure.”

— Manager Dave Martinez said last year

You could say a pair of aces is better than hoping your pair of 7’s turns into three-of-a-kind as you draw cards from the dealer. While the names on the back of the jerseys competing for this 2024 rotation includes Josiah Gray, MacKenzie Gore, Cole Irvin, Jackson Rutledge, and DJ Herz, we do not know if any of them will ever reach the level of JZim or even Gio Gonzalez who was added in 2012. Cade Cavalli is working back from TJ surgery as well as Jake Bennett who is deeper in the farm system. Who else is there in the farm system that you would project as a future ace?

Yes, while there should be optimism with position players of CJ Abrams and Keibert Ruiz along with top prospects James Wood, Dylan Crews, and Brady House, you just cannot think it is 2010 or 2011 because the pitching just is not there. Some would say the position prospects are better than ever, and general manager Mike Rizzo agreed with that even before the 2023 draft added Crews and Yohandy Morales to the mix.

“Starting pitching is the driver to me . . . We’ve built our [rosters] based on having a guy in the middle of the diamond who gives us a chance to win every day.”

— Rizzo said after the 2018 season

So sure, Rizzo spoke the truth six years ago about starting pitching. He had just acquired Patrick Corbin to go with Max Scherzer and Strasburg and Anibal Sanchez. That team would win the 2019 World Series. He has zero aces now in his hand. He does not have one guy in the middle of the diamond who gives the Nats a chance to win every day. That is just the hard truth. The task is finding those guys through drafting and developing, rather than counting on free agency and trades.

But what do you do when you want to win now?

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