Inbox: State of the starting pitchers

Beat reporter Jessica Camerato answers questions from fans

February 11th, 2021

Pitching is a key to any team's success, and it's no surprise the Nationals' starting rotation was a hot topic of questions for this week's Inbox. This edition is dedicated to a look at the arms shaping the 2021 roster.

How does fit in the rotation, personality wise?
-- @ADH6626, via Twitter

At 37 years old, Lester already has won three World Series, thrown a no-hitter and become a five-time All-Star in 15 seasons. Yet he has big goals for the Nationals -- “I want to bring another ring to D.C.,” he said last month. This unwavering competitive drive matches the desire to win of fellow veteran starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, who have won a title and still are hungry for more. Lester is eager to contribute to the staff.

“It's going to be nice to just kind of sit back and watch these guys work,” Lester said. “I'm just excited to dig into their minds and see how they prepare, and really [I’ll] just stay out of the way. I want to be kind of a fly on the wall with this rotation and just try to help out as best I can."

As for the roster beyond the rotation, Lester is being reunited with several former teammates from the Cubs. He and Kyle Schwarber tweeted their mutual excitement after they signed one-year deals with the Nationals this offseason.

Thoughts on ’s role for 2021?
-- @joshlap19, via Twitter

Fedde hasn’t been labeled by a specific pitching role, and that flexibility has helped the Nationals. After being part of a fifth-starter-by-committee trio with Joe Ross and Austin Voth, Fedde was in line to be a long man out of the bullpen last season before Strasburg’s right hand injury created the need for another starting pitcher (more on that below). Fedde stepped in, and pitched to a 1-3 record and a 4.95 ERA over 40 innings in eight starts.

The Nationals have not named their fifth starter yet, but manager Dave Martinez said in December he would like Ross to be in the starting rotation. If the full-time role goes to Ross, Washington could turn to Fedde for extended innings out of the ‘pen. Over his four-year career, Fedde has a 3.54 ERA across 28 frames of relief work. Having experience ranging from a few quick outs to a personal-best seven innings, he could give the Nats’ bullpen depth for a number of in-game scenarios.

How is doing?
-- @awberon, via Twitter

When Strasburg underwent season-ending surgery in August to address carpal tunnel neuritis in his right hand, the Nationals expected him to make a full recovery from the injury that limited him to just five innings in 2020. The team reiterated this offseason that he is anticipated to be ready for Spring Training, the beginning of his 12th season. Expect the Nats to take a cautious approach and keep a close eye on Strasburg, who is just one year removed from earning an National League-best 18 wins and being named the '19 World Series Most Valuable Player.