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1/13/08 Prediction: Washington Will See A New Youth Revolution On The Hill In '08.

     In the first two weeks of April 2007, the Washington Nationals went 2-9 to start the season against the Florida Marlins, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, and it wasn't until the second game of the series against New York that a Nationals' starter recorded a win with Shawn Hill earning the decision in a 6-2 win over the Mets in which Hill pitched 7.0 innings of 8-hit, 2-run ball.

     To reiterate, the starting rotation, which consisted then of John Patterson, Shawn Hill, Jason Bergmann, Matt Chico and Jerome Williams combined to go eleven games into the '07 season before any of them had notched a victory.

      When the month of April had come to an end, the Nationals found themselves 9-16, 7.5 games out of first in the NL East, and the starters had a collective 5-14 record...Patterson stood at (1-4, 6.44 ERA), Hill (2-2, 2.76), Bergmann (0-2, 2.79), Chico (2-2, 5.70), and finally Jerome Williams finished at (0-4, 6.11 ERA).

     At the end of the 2007 season, no starting pitcher had recorded more than the 8 wins Jon Rauch (8-4, 3.61 ERA) had claimed, with Matt Chico's (7-9, 4.63) finish and Shawn Hill's (4-5, 3.42 ERA) arguably the best pitching performances of the season. The Nationals' starters finished the season at (43-62) with a 5.11 ERA as a unit in 856.0 innings. (The Nationals' Bullpen?...(30-27, 3.81) in 590.2 IP.

     Matt Chico's team-leading 94 K's ranked 54th in the NL, and the only other Nationals in the Top 100 were Jason Bergmann with 86 K's at #65, Jon Rauch at #88 with 71 K's and Shawn Hill at #97 with 65. Alternately...5 Nationals finished in the Top 100 in walks. (Guess?...Chico-13th, Bergmann/Rivera-tie-62nd, Hanrahan/Redding-tie-73rd).

     As of today, the Nationals hadn't added any starters via free agency for the '08 rotation, though they had acquired NY Yankee prospect Tyler Clippard, who was expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

     The depth chart on the hill, according to washington.nationals.mlb.com currently lists Hill, Patterson, Bergmann, John Lannan, and Chico as the top five in the rotation, with Tim Redding, Clippard, and Garret Mock receiving early consideration...(if this list if of any merit).

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/team/depth_chart/index.jsp?c_id=was

     Ross Detwiler, Enrique Gonzalez, and Joel Hanrahan are the only other starters on the 40-Man Roster, with someone like Colin Balester maybe just about ready to push any starters who struggle this Spring.

     But does any combination of those twelve possible starters appear capable of competing in the NL East? Does adding a high-priced veteran like former-National Livan Hernandez make sense with this many Major League-ready starters in need of experience? Is there any other free agent starter out there who seems like a good fit for DC?

     If there is?...I don't see it...And with Patterson, Hill and Bergmann all, shall we say, injury-prone, I predict it won't be long before the Nationals starter calling upon their organization's young arms...

*Starting Pitching Links...*

ESPN.com's Team Totals for Washington Nationals' starters:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teams/pitching?team=was&season=2007&split=127&seasonType=2 &type=std

ESPN.com's Team Totals for Washington Nationals' relievers:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teams/pitching?team=was&season=2007&split=128&seasonType=2 &type=std

mlb.com's League Leader Stat Page:

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/stats/index.jsp

Washington Nationals' Team Stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2007_sched.shtml