In this edition of roster predictions, we give you the scoop about the pitchers you can expect to start the 2012 season with a Washington Nationals minor league affiliate. Some of the names on this list may surprise you, others shouldn't be that complicated. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Yunesky Maya will certainly start the season with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in 2012. After he signed a 4 year, $8 million deal with the Nationals in 2010, he hasn't quite lived up to the financial expectations. Over parts of 2 MLB seasons, Maya is averaging a 5.52 ERA, a 1.551 WHIP, and a -0.5 WAR. To say the least, this signing has been a disappointment, and it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see Maya non-tendered at some point next season.
Matt Purke was selected by the Nationals in 2011 Amateur Draft with a known shoulder issue, though he is representing the Nats with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. Purke figures to be a cricial aspect of the Nats rotation in the not-so-distant future, but it won't be in 2012. He also won't be as watched as Stephen Strasburg, but that doesn't mean he's not important for the middle-back end of the future rotation.
Cole Kimball made huge progress in the Nationals bullpen for the brief time that he had there. His unbelievably devastating splitter had many thinking he could be a solid 7th inning guy. Even if Henry Rodriguez didn't all but solidfy that role in September this year, Kimball still won't return from rotator cuff surgery until mid-way through next year after a rehab stint in the minors.
The man with the coolest name in baseball, Atahualpa Severino, will end up with Syracuse again to start the season, as should be expected. He was used sparingly in September, despite being called up for the bullpen. There's a chance that he could work in the 'pen as a lefty specialist along with Sean Burnett, but it doesn't seem likely.
Tommy Milone had one hell of a September, perhaps even one that's earned him a spot on the 25-man roster. The matter of numbers and salary will probably work against him when he competes against guys like Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, and Ross Detwiler. It certainly isn't out of the question that Milone makes the roster, we're just not sure it'll be on April 5th.
Brad Peacock is much the same as Milone, perhaps even more so after being name the Nats Minor League Pitcher of the Year. His story is even cooler because of his dad's relentless pursuit of every one of his starts. Peacock is another one that wouldn't be shocking if he ended up ast the #5 starter, but without injury, he may be a season away from ending up in the Opening Day rotation.