Drew Kinback: For starters, a Tao on the Nationals' rotation

After the Nationals got absolutely brutalized in Milwaukee, it was hard to sit down and write something about them.

I mean, they savaged themselves. One game they got blown out, the other two were like they were trying to end it all by leaping up on a moose head attached to the wall to try and impale themselves on its horns. Comedic and pathetic. The feelings of anger and disgust were over whelming so I took some time and meditated in the Zen Room (all Nats blogs are equipped with one). If I didn't I would have just come on here and put Gunnery Sergeant Hartman to shame.

After spending time visualizing flowing, golden brooks filled with koi and lotus blossom leaves in my mind, I changed gears and started having deep thoughts about the Nationals starting rotation for the mere reason that I like starting pitchers. They're an important cog in the overall machine and without them, the team mechanism can't work. Plus it is such a cool job. I see a baseball game as just two players really who are locked in a duel ("I'm your huckleberry ...").

The following are some thoughts on the current members of the Nationals rotation and where they might or might not fit in the big picture. Call it my Tao of Nationals pitching.

Livan Hernandez: Some refer to Hernandez as "The Washington Nationals" or a "true National." If this is even remotely true, then no wonder the Nationals have had a hard time of it the past six years. Really, he isn't the best pitcher to commit idolatry over, but admittedly he has had a hell of a 15-year career. Considered the workhorse of the Nationals, he had an astounding 2010 season, but as of now, the follow-up has not been enough to give him enough value to stay with the team. He has been a victim of no run support, but slowly his ERA is beginning to rise as well is his age. Add on his current off-the-field troubles and you have the makings of a PR nightmare the Nationals shouldn't and won't want to deal with. I can't see him on this team past 2011.

Jason Marquis: I read the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup and they are telling me the Nationals should somehow retain the pitcher from Staten Island, N.Y. The guy is a veteran, a gamer and would be a valuable asset in Nationals rotation in 2012. His importance is increased by the fact Hernandez is probably on his way out of D.C. The Nats will need an old salt in a young rotation next year. Right now, the general consensus is that the Nats will dealhim at the trade deadline, but with the rest of the rotation's future in a cloud of uncertainly (at least in my mind), the Nationals would benefit on thinking twice on the matter.

Jordan Zimmermann: He's been coming along relatively well in 2011 after coming back from Tommy John surgery. Is he good enough to take the second spot in the rotation right after Stephen Strasburg when he returns next season? It remains to be seen, but Zimmermann is not going anywhere. He'll be in that 2012 rotation.

John Lannan: I think it is time the John Lannan Experience comes to an end in D.C. Way too inconsistent, looks unconfident a lot of times and I believe he gets rattled too easily when the other team comes up with a big hit or he doesn't get a call. He has been a staple of the Nationals rotation for years now, even becoming their ace once, but I think everyone knew the truth even then: He was more a fit as a fourth or fifth starter, a third at best. I'm sure it is not a popular idea, considering Lannan has become a fan favorite of sorts, but I wouldn't mind seeing Lannan eventually traded in part of a package. Of course, how much love is there for a pitcher when the team can't even spell his name right?

Tom Gorzelanny: The lefty has a name like a monster movie and his pitching is just as scary. He is the only National starter to give up double digit home runs and leads all Nats starters with 11 homers allowed. He has problems with giving up the longball. He had this trouble in spring training and he continues to have it now. Considering he is really just another fourth or fifth starter and this problem isn't getting any better, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone place an oxygen destroyer in the team Whirlpool and end his reign of terror in 2012.

The more I think about it the more I believe the 2012 Nationals rotation is not as clear cut as originally thought. Strasburg, Zimmermann and then ... who? Anyone's guess considering most of the Nationals pitchers are actually quite expendable - when you spend a little time down by the brook in my mind.

I'm sure you have your own thoughts on the matter.

em>Drew Kinback blogs about the Nats at Nationals Inquisition, and has given his take this week as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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