So with new starter Doug Fister on board, it appears the Nationals’ rotation is set for 2014. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann all have spots locked up. But what about Ross Detwiler, who was limited to 13 starts in 2013 because of a back injury?
Detwiler isn’t guaranteed anything. He could always switch to the bullpen if Washington struggles to address its holes there, especially from the left side. But he remains the leading candidate for that fifth starter position with the Nats unlikely to add another starter to the mix.
Detwiler, 27, endured similar injury issues in 2011. His only full season of health in the big leagues came in 2012 when he made 27 starts and appeared in 33 games. Washington needed starts from a patchwork group including rookie Taylor Jordan (9), Ross Ohlendorf (7), Tanner Roark (5), Nathan Karns (3) and Zach Duke (1). Only Duke is gone from the roster. Further down in the minor-league system the Nats have pitchers Lucas Giolito, 19, and A.J. Cole, 21.
Lefty Sammy Solis, 25, appeared in 14 games last summer in his first year back from Tommy John surgery and was also mentioned by Rizzo as a potential help at the big-league level this coming season. Robbie Ray would have been in that mix, too, had he not been sent to Detroit in the Fister deal – a price Washington was more than willing to pay along with utility man Steve Lombardozzi and reliever Ian Krol.
“I think the difference this year from previous years, we’ve got great depth at that spot,” Rizzo said. “When you talk about Detwiler and Roark and Taylor Jordan and Karns and Solis, and then the younger wave of guys that could get here in the future, we feel good about where we’re at. it was one of the reasons we felt it made it possible to move a Robbie Ray in a trade, because we have starting pitching depth close to the major leagues.”