Strong pitching is what will make this year’s Washington Nationals a fierce competitor from within their division. They are backed by newly acquired veteran starter Jason Marquis and fellow veteran Pudge Rodriguez from behind the plate. But what about the rest of the rotation?
The Washington Nationals are coming off of a 2009 season in which they posted the worst ERA in all of the National League (5.00). This year, they’re all about changing that.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com says that if the Nats don’t acquire a veteran starter, fans better be on the look out for Collin Balester, Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler, J.D. Martin, Garrett Mock, Scott Olsen and Stephen Strasburg to fill the final two rotation spots. Then Marquis will maintain the role as ace, leaving John Lannan and Craig Stammen in the top-half of Riggleman’s 2010 pitcher’s line-up. That combination is enough to motivate a young team ripe and ready for success.
It isn’t just the Nationals pitching staff that fans have to be weary of with Spring Training games just weeks away. The team led the Majors in errors at 143 last year. Health and persistence is what will keep this ball club above 500 for the first part of the season at least. The rest is up to them.
What’s the the key word in motivating the guys for Spring Training? According to owner Mike Rizzo at NatsFest a couple weeks ago, the word is “Competition”. He says, “Competition brings out the best in all the players.” No words could ring more true.
Bruney and Capps are slated to battle it out for the role of closer during Spring Training — there appears to be no favor in sight. Either way, “I know there is a lot of talk about Capps’ role and Bruney’s role,” McCatty told MLB.com. “Both of them said, ‘Whatever you guys want, I’m ready to do it.’ They just want to pitch. I love that. That’s what you need. They want the ball every day. They are hard-nose competitors.”
At the end of the day, sheer determination and talent is what will win the Nationals games this year. The pieces are in place, now they’ve just got to use them.
Photo of Manager Jim Riggleman and RHP Jason Marquis by Rachel Levitin.