Last winter there was some hand-wringing and "oh no-ing" when the Nationals failed to ink either Brandon Webb or Justin Duchscherer, two free agent pitchers who were coming off of injuries. The former signed with the Rangers and the latter with the Orioles, and as of today, neither right-hander has appeared in a big league contest.
Webb, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009, is likely still four-to-six weeks away from pitching with Texas, and when he does, will pitch out of the bullpen, something he hasn't done since his big league appearance in 2003. Duchscherer's hip and back woes caused him to miss all of 2009 and pitch only five games for Oakland in 2010. His return to the active roster in Baltimore is still up in the air.
The season-long absence of Stephen Strasburg made the Nationals proactive in searching for additional starters last fall. They negotiated with Cliff Lee, attempted to trade for Zach Greinke, and eventually settled for lefty Tom Gorzelanny in a trade with the Cubs.
Starting the year with a rotation of Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann and Gorzelanny, the Nationals, through the first 15 games of the season, have seen their starters average more innings per start than any team in the major leagues. They currently have a streak of seven consecutive quality starts as they've seen their wins outnumber their losses. A small sample, to be sure, but far better than their critics expected.
I'm betting there's some degree of relief that they missed out on Webb and Duchscherer.