The Nats have placed their bets on Stephen Strasburg for the next seven years (that deafening silence is the sound of Thomas Boswell admitting he was wrong about The Shutdown). Is his replacement in this list?
Probably not, which may be why we had such light turnout with the vote; just eight ballots including mine:
- Jackson Rutledge
- Tim Cate
- Matt Cronin
- Wil Crowe
- Steven Fuentes
- Sterling Sharp
- Ben Braymer
- Alfonso Hernandez
- Mario Sánchez
- Tyler Dyson
Others receiving votes: Mason Denaburg, Seth Romero, Reid Schaller, James Bourque, Carson Teel, Alex Troop, Andry Lara, Karlo Seijas, Malvin Peña, Joan Adon, Jacob Condra-Bogan. I did not include the honorable mentions any retro-active picks due to FA signings.
Four pitchers were on every ballot: Rutledge, Cronin, Cate, and Sharp. Three pitchers returned from last year’s Top 10, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that three of them were already ineligible for Selective Service by the end of December 2018. This year the oldest (Braymer) won’t turn 26 until the end of April, the next (Crowe) in September, then Sánchez.
I shouldn’t be surprised by the list skewing old because the Nats usually sign just one HS pitcher every June… and then trade him within three or four seasons. Just two HS picks are still active in the system – this year’s signee (Michael Cuevas) and last year’s (Mason Denaburg) – and they combined for almost 36 innings in 2019!
Who will join the carousel for the #5 starter slot in 2020? Or is Joe Ross ready to return?
Much will depend on the health of Nos. 2 and 4, as Max Scherzer and Aníbal Sánchez both turn 36 this season. History suggests GM Mike Rizzo will turn to a known commodity before giving the ball to a rookie, which means that any of the SPs on this list are in line behind Ross, Erick Fedde, Austin Voth, and the obligatory veteran signed as insurance this offseason.
It’s not much better for relievers, but unless Rizzo builds a successful bullpen in the offseason instead of during the season [pause to allow readers to wipe the beverage they just spit off their screen], there will be opportunities next summer.
Next up, barring a trade today, the Rule 5 Draft.