Washington Nationals 2013 Positional Review: Starting Pitcher

By Brian Skinnell
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we started off our series in which we break down the Washington Nationals‘ 2013 season position by position by taking a look at the catchers. Today, we move on to the no. 1 position on the diamond: the starting pitchers.

Overall, the Nationals had a pretty successful season with their starting pitchers. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann all pitched well with Zimmermann looking like a Cy Young candidate all season long. Dan Haren struggled mightily throughout the season, and the team found some solid pitching when rookie Tanner Roark was inserted into the no. 4 spot with a month left in the season.

Unfortunately, the quality of the starting pitching went unnoticed thanks to a lack of run support. That also left the win-loss records skewed and could lead you to believe that they weren’t as good. Well, looks can be deceiving.

Take Strasburg, for example, who finished with an 8-9 record but a 3.00 ERA, 191 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.05. Gonzalez finished with an 11-8 record, but had an ERA of 3.36, 192 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.25. Zimmermann was the team’s bright spot, at least by number of wins (19), but didn’t top Strasburg in ERA (3.25), strikeouts (161) or WHIP (1.09).

Zimmermann simply got the run support that the other pitchers needed. Don’t take anything away from, however, as he pitched one heck of a season.

The biggest surprise this season was the rookie Roark. He first joined the team as a member of the bullpen in August. In September, he was moved to the fourth spot in the starting rotation and went 3-1 in five starts with a 1.74 ERA. If the Nationals keep him on the rotation, which I believe they should, they’ll have four of the five spots figured out and in good hands next season.

Haren struggled throughout the season and you likely won’t see him again next year since he was playing on a one-year contract. Haren finished 10-14, including an 11-game stretch in which the Nationals lost when he took the mound. It should be interesting to see how they’ll fill his spot for next season.

In 2014, expect to see another stout pitching performance from the Nationals’ starters. The only question mark is who will be the team’s fifth starter in 2014. Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Roark are all poised for solid seasons, and I would expect nothing less.

Next time on our trip around the diamond, we’ll head on over to first base and check in on Adam LaRoche. Some speculate he may not be wearing a Nationals jersey for much longer.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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