Stephen Strasburg will be shut down in September, no matter how many innings the Washington Nationals' brain trust finally agrees upon as his limit. It's a tough choice, but it's a decision the franchise needs to make to avoid endangering Strasburg's recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The Washington Nationals will need to replace Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation, but whoever they choose for the job will have big shoes to fill. Stephen is currently 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA, and has a league-leading 122 strikeouts with only 27 walks in 93.0 innings pitched. He began the season as the Opening Day starter, and was named to the NL All-Star Team on Sunday.
So who could possibly take Strasburg's place in the Nationals' rotation? Here are seven starting pitchers the Washington Nationals can acquire via trade to replace Stephen Strasburg in September.
Derek Lowe would be an excellent late-season rental for the Washington Nationals.
The 39-year-old sinker-baller is in the last year of a four-year deal worth $60 million. The Atlanta Braves traded him to Cleveland in the offseason, and the Braves are actually paying $10 million on the last year of his contract.
Derek Lowe is currently 7-6 for the Indians with a 4.42 ERA in 95.2 innings pitched and has extensive postseason experience. He is 5-7 in his playoff career with the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Atlanta Braves. This includes winning the decisive Game 4 for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.
This 35-year-old British Columbia native has done a little bit of everything in his 15-year career.
Ryan Dempster is 115-119 with a 4.33 ERA in 306 career starts and 225 relief appearances. He led the National League in games finished in 2006, and games started in 2011.
This season, Dempster is 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts. He is currently on the 15-day disabled list, but is still being pursued by the Los Angeles Dodgers. If the Nationals could somehow land him before the Dodgers do, he would be a solid yet unimpressive replacement for Stephen Strasburg.
Francisco Liriano is one of several notable free-agent pitchers this season and would be a good option for the Washington Nationals for the last couple months of the season.
But over his seven years in the major leagues, Liriano is 49-49 with a 4.29 ERA and a 2.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Francisco also has postseason experience, pitching in the playoffs in both 2009 and 2010.
Wandy Rodriguez is currently 6-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 102.1 innings pitched.
In his eight year career, Rodriguez has compiled a 79-80 record, with an ERA of 4.03 in 213 starts. Wandy made three appearances in the 2005 postseason, his only taste of October baseball. He pitched in two World Series games against the Chicago White Sox, finishing with a 2.45 ERA.
Replacing Stephen Strasburg with the flame-throwing Matt Garza would be a like substitution for the Washington Nationals.
In his seven-year career, the 28-year-old California native is 56-60 with a 3.85 ERA and 2.46 strikeouts for every walk. And he has performed well in his playoff career. He compiled a 2-0 record with a 1.38 ERA in two starts in the 2008 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, as Garza and the Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the first World Series in franchise history.
This season, Matt is 4-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 89.2 innings pitched. But the moribund Cubs are ready to unload Garza, and the intense competitor is ready for any challenge, according to WEEI Sports Radio, "I just want to keep playing. It doesn’t matter where. I’ll pitch on the freaking moon."
If the Washington Nationals acquire Matt Garza, maybe he can take his warm-up pitches at the Air & Space Museum.
The Washington Nationals have been down this road before.
Two off seasons ago, Zack Greinke was a highly coveted trade target, and he was heavily courted by the Washington Nationals.
But Zack Greinke rejected the deal by invoking his no-trade clause, saying that Washington was not yet ready to win.
So now, two years after being traded to Milwaukee, Greinke is once again on the market. He will be a free agent after this season, and the Brewers say he is ready to move.
The 28-year-old is currently 9-2 with 102 strikeouts, 22 walks, and a 2.82 ERA in 102.0 innings pitched. Greinke is 85-75 over his nine-year career, with a 3.75 ERA and 1,234 strikeouts. Zack made his first postseason appearance in 2011 with the Milwaukee Brewers, and won the 2009 AL Cy Young with the Kansas City Royals.
Zack Greinke would be an excellent pitcher for the Washington Nationals to pursue, unless general manager Mike Rizzo has rejection issues.
This trade would be even more awkward than a deal for Zack Greinke.
Cole Hamels, of course, intentionally beaned Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper on May 6th. So needless to say, this move would put a bit of a strain on team chemistry.
But from a pitching standpoint, Cole Hamels would be the perfect replacement for Stephen Strasburg. Like Strasburg, Hamels can be the ace of a staff and has the statistics to match. In 16 starts, Hamels is 10-4 with a 3.08 ERA. He has 111 strikeouts and only 28 walks in 108.1 innings pitched, with a 1.10 WHIP and a .232 batting average against. Hamels even has significant playoff experience and was named World Series MVP in 2008.
Not surprisingly, the Phillies' asking price for Hamels is said by sources to be very, very steep: package of 4 to 5 prospects, some A-plus.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN)
If the Washington Nationals are willing to pay that price, then they will have a worthy replacement for Stephen Strasburg.