The Nationals' reported interest in free agent pitcher Doug Davis adds another name to the wheel of potential starters for 2010.
A caller to "Wall-to-Wall Baseball" on MASN this past Saturday asked us to handicap the opening day starting rotation. After Jason Marquis and John Lannan, it's slightly hazy.
If healthy, Jordan Zimmermann would be a lock - but he's not due back until 2011. Craig Stammen pitched to a 5+ ERA in 19 starts, but because there were inquiries from other clubs this winter, his stock seems to have risen somewhat. J.D. Martin made 15 starts after he was brought up in July, and showed some promise - a 4.44 ERA, though he seemed prone to the long ball, allowing 14 home runs in 77 innings.
Lefthander Scott Olsen is back, and reportedly healthy, and his experience will likely give him a leg up on some youinger arms. Collin Balester and Garrett Mock are still works in progress, as is Ross Detwiler. Livan Hernandez seemed like a likely candidate to return last October, but at this point he's 50-50 at best to come back.
Speculating right now - and assuming there's some fire behind the Doug Davis smoke - I can see an April rotation of Marquis, Lannan, Davis, Olsen and Martin, though I might give you a different answer tomorrow. It's a lefty-heavy rotation, but I doubt that's much of a concern.
Actually, if Davis ends up somewhere else, and the Nats sign another available experienced free agent starter, you could just pencil him into that third slot.
A year ago at this time there were a lot of rotation candidates, but not much in the way of even mid-rung major league quality. It's at least mid-rung now, with the potential arrival of Strasburg and return of Zimmermann down the road designed to ratchet it up another notch or more.
And on a completely unrelated note, did you catch the obscure Alan Parsons Project reference on "The Cleveland Show" last night? I love stuff like that.