Nats "Magic" Number : 3 (any combo of 3 Nats wins or Marlins losses will ensure a season finish of 4th or better. Small victories)
Ross Detwiler pitched pretty well last night didn't he? Brad Peacock has pitched well too. So has Wang recently. Milone hasn't been bad either.
It's a problem every team would like to have. Too much pitching. Along with Lannan, Strasburg, and ZNN the Nats have 7 viable pitchers for 5 spots. And this offseason could potentially bring in another top-end rotation guy if the Nats feel that is needed. (it kinda is) Let's assume they don't trade or sign someone for now. What's the team to do?
1) Keep 'em all, let them pitch in ST, choose the best 5.
Positives: Seven pitchers for 5 spots isn't crazy. I pretty much expect to lose one starter to injury or performance over the course of the year, and at some point it's very likely two will be down at the same time. You need extra arms to keep seasons going. Strasburg isn't going to pitch a full year you know.
Negatives: Probably not the best use of resources given that there's a gaping hole in CF and MI might use a talent boost. If there isn't enough turn-around, some guys could get stuck at minor leagues below their level because there isn't a place to put them in the upper one. Hard to see what anyone but Peacock could learn in AAA (and he could easily show good enough control in just a few games) Tempting for a GM to constantly fiddle around with the back of the rotation rather than give young guys a good long chance to get it together.
2) Trade Lannan, Keep Wang, work with 6
Positives: You are probably working with the most talented bunch (I'd argue Milone isn't noticeably more talented than Lannan but he does have the age edge)
Negatives: Lannan is the only one with a recent history of lasting full major league seasons. He's also probably ready to move into the "absorb innings" role that Livan will abandon if he doesn't come back as a starter (and considering he's ok with coming back as a long reliever I think that writing is on the wall). Rotation likely heavily righty.
3) Let Wang walk, Keep Lannan, work with 6
Positives : No negotiations to likely overpay someone you already gave millions to for a handful of starts. Wang's age and recent history probably make him the biggest injury risk. Two lefties at least in the rotation.
Negatives : Feels like those millions were just thrown away to help wherever he goes next, doesn't it? Wang has the cache of being on a winner and is a high-profile foreign player - two things that can help sell tickets, even if it's just a few more. Team defense built for a guy like Wang.
4) Trade a youngster, Keep Wang and Lannan, work with 6
Positives : It's going to be a Peacock or Detwiler package that's gonna bring back something worthwhile. Keeps a couple of guys in the rotation you might feel ok with pulling if any of the young studs burn through the minors.
Negatives : You hate to give up young pitching. No telling which of the 3 will break out, make the deal for the wrong guy and you could have years of looking bad.
5) Trade Lannan, Let Wang walk - go full youth
Positives : Exciting isn't it? Will show really soon who is good and who is not. Every young guy gets a good long chance in the majors
Negatives : Insanity. Leaves the innings pitched burden all on ZNN, not a full 2 years after undergoing major surgery. Any injuries or talent shortfalls would leave the Nats in the familiar position of bringing up AAAA talent guys to throw junk innings.
Out of these.. you know, I probably like #1. Maybe #4, next. Pitching is so prone to changes that I think keeping everyone around is the best option. Worry about having too many guys when that issue comes up. This could all blow up if Meyer, Purke, Cole, and/or Solis have great
next seasons, but that's the type of blow-up you want. There is no song
"Mo' pitchers, Mo' problems". If they have to deal someone - deal a youngster and get someone good back. No middling deals just to free up a spot. Damn the chances that the one traded becomes great. Sure it could happen, more likely though is that he gets injured, or is mediocre, or has a few good years and nothing more.
If they do get someone in the offseason, then I see no reason to keep Wang around, unless someone else is dealt. But you know me, I'm a complete Lannan apologist and will always side with keeping him around over talent that's not proven to be better in practice.