Fifth starter – Who Will it Be?

Pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training last week, with position players joining today. Teams are making last minute additions, looking for bench and bullpen help as of now. The Baltimore Orioles made a splash the other day, signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4-year, $48 million dollar deal. The signing will solidify their rotation with another middle-of-the-rotation type of guy.

For the Nationals, they answered one of their remaining questions at backup catcher with the acquisition of Jose Lobaton for Nate Karns. Even though he was a long shot, with Karns out of the mix now for possible fifth starter, who is left? Let’s take a look, both in house and on the free-agent market. With Mike Rizzo, you never know:

Ross Detwiler

The obvious choice and the front runner for the job. He has a history of injuries, but when healthy has shown to be more than serviceable as a starter and an ERA between 3.50 and 3.75 for a fifth spot is more than adequate. He has the inside track to the job and only needs to stay healthy and consistent.

Tanner Roark

The guy many fans might be pulling for to succeed this season. In 14 games, five starts, Roark compiled a 7-1 record with a 1.51 ERA? Incredible. The guy has talent; it will just be up to Matt Williams to determine if he’s better fit in the rotation or the bullpen. Expect him in the big leagues no matter what, and to be the first go-to for the rotation after an injury.

Taylor Jordan

Jordan also had marked success for the Nats last season in his short stint. After compiling a 9-1 record with a 1.00 in between Potomac and Harrisburg, Jordan put together a 3.66 ERA in 9 big-league starts; walking only 1.92 batters per nine innings. The numbers look great, however barring an exceptional Spring, expect him to start in AAA. If he continues on a similar path as his 2013 to start to the year he will certainly get the call should injuries start to plague the rotation or whomever wins the 5th spot begin to struggle.

Ervin Santana

Ok, you say that this might be getting greedy. Is it even financially possible? Maybe. The Nationals were rumored to be in on A.J. Burnett. If Mike Rizzo is able to convince the vet to take a one year or two year with a club option for year two, and $14 per year, then maybe. Personally, that might be too much for a fifth starter. However, can you put a price on a World Series championship? He could be a big help, and I wouldn’t count it out. However, long shot city.

Jair Jurrjens

I admit, this is even more of a stretch than Santana. But, this could be a win/win situation for the Nats. Jurrjens’ career has been in freefall after his outstanding season with the Braves in 2011. He has bounced around, spending time with both the Orioles and Tigers last season. His ERA at AAA last season was 4.57. However at only 28 years old he could make sense as cheap depth with an MiLB deal with incentives should he make the 25-man at some point.

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