Since the Nationals signed Max Scherzer to the second largest contract in starting pitcher history it seems like every pundit and writer has already crowned them National League, if not World, Champions. This is mostly based on the age old axiom that dominant starting pitching wins championships.
While it’s undoubtedly nearly impossible to win a championship with poor starting pitching if a great rotation was all that was required then the Tigers should have won the World Series at least once already this decade. The Tigers model ever since Dave Dombrowski took over as GM has been a dominant rotation filled with star studded power pitchers combined with a couple all-star hitters and a bunch of minor league level talent, the proverbial stars-and-scrubs system.
In 2013 the Tigers rotation was as good as they come, headlined by (the very same) Max Scherzer in his Cy Young winning year, Justin Verlander in an All-Star year, a nearly ace quality Anibal Sanchez, a very under-rated Doug Fister (who is also a National now), and Rick Porcello. That rotation is just as good or better than the Nationals current group of pitchers.
Although having Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Fister, and Gio Gonzalez is great I can’t believe that the Nationals will get a different result than the 2012 Tigers – a playoff berth and a premature exit due to a lack of offense. Washington ranked 12th in the major leagues in batting average, 10th in slugging, and 8th in OBP in 2014 but they have also lost Adam LaRoche and Asdrubal Cabrera to free agency without doing much to replace them.
When the Tigers went to the World Series in 2012 they got good starting pitching in nearly all of their games. However, they were also shut out twice because their offense couldn’t manufacture any runs. If the Nationals want to bring a World Series title to Washington they need to focus on adding more speed, defense, and clutch hitting to their team – not following the Tigers failed model of adding star pitchers to an already great rotation.