As the Washington Nationals fight for a playoff spot, their ace Stephen Strasburg is approaching a looming innings limit. As a result, Strasburg will be shut down in two or three starts, according to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post.
The Nationals will essentially be relying on making the playoffs without their No. 1 pitcher.
The Nationals are in an interesting position as the waiver deadline approaches and the postseason is right around the corner. Acquiring a waiver wire pitcher is important if the Nats want to have a bit more firepower in September and October.
Many teams have placed pitchers on waivers in the last week or so, but which pitchers are worth the Nationals' consideration?
Jason Vargas can be a valuable commodity to a team down the stretch and the Nationals might have interest in an arm like his.
The 29-year-old lefty has been solid again this season for the Seattle Mariners and is sure to make an impact on a contender if he is claimed. Vargas is a quality arm who has unfortunately been on a bad team in Seattle for the past four seasons.
This is his first year with a winning record, despite having a lower WHIP and walks per nine innings than his previous four seasons in Seattle. His ERA is at a very respectable 3.90 in 2012.
Vargas is coming into his own and the Nationals would be able to keep him next season since he is arbitration eligible in 2013. Should the Nationals want a pitcher that might continue to develop in their system for the remainder of this season and beyond, Vargas is a beneficial option.
Roy Oswalt has had a season to forget in 2012. After a long free-agency period, he finally signed with the Texas Rangers where he was only able to pitch 50 innings and compile a 5.94 ERA.
Now he has been placed on waivers and the Rangers are waiting for a team that is willing to take the risk on the 35-year-old with a history of injuries.
The risk might outweigh the reward for the Nationals, however.
Oswalt falls into the category of a rental for the remainder of the season as he is set to be a free agent next year. The question is if the Nationals are willing to take the risk and if they are, is it a risk worth passing up the younger arms ahead of him on the waiver wire?
Aside from his track record with injuries, it is imperative to recognize his past success in the National League, where he spent 11 years and had a 3.21 ERA and a 159-93 record.
The question remains, however: Is there anything left in the tank for the aging veteran?
Felix Doubront could be a big player for the Nationals if he makes it through waivers in the American League. Doubront has averaged almost a strikeout per inning (126 strikeouts in 127.2 innings) all while assuming the biggest workload of his Boston Red Sox career.
By the way, the lefty is only 24 years old.
Despite his 4.79 ERA, he would be a huge contributor in September and October for the Nationals and has proven that he is able to handle the pressure of playing for a big-market team. He would likely be able to lower his ERA and improve upon his already impressive strikeout total with a switch to the National League.
Shaun Marcum is an interesting option that the Nationals might consider for the playoff run. Marcum's obvious downside is his health. Marcum left Thursday's game due to cramping and spent much of this season on the DL.
If Marcum could remain healthy then he should provide the Nats with a lively arm, but it has to be a serious concern considering that he hasn't been able to remain healthy to this point.
On the plus side, Marcum has a contract that will expire at season's end, essentially making him a rental this fall. Despite injury risk, his track record boasts a model of consistency that is hard to find on the waiver wire.
Marcum has shown that he can be a valuable member of any team and should be on the Nats' radar if he can rebound from his cramping issue.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Daisuke Matsuzaka has been placed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox.
Dice-K has been decent for the Sox this season, pitching to a 5.10 ERA this season in six starts. He was sharp in his most recent outing, which might provide some hope for any team that is interested. For the Nats, Dice-K might be a very interesting option.
He has postseason experience, starting seven games while going 3-1 with a 4.79 ERA. This could be a great addition to an otherwise inexperienced pitching staff when it comes to dealing with the pressure of the postseason.
Dice-K is set to become a free agent after this season, giving the Nationals very little to risk.