This week on the “High and Outside” podcast, we sat down with Washington Nationals starting pitcher Josiah Gray to talk about the melanated mound marauders’ journey as a big-league pitcher. Josiah was acquired last season in the trade that sent Mad Max Scherzer and Trae Turner to LA and is a cornerstone piece of the Nationals’ rebuild.
As we wrapped the interview, Josiah gave us his All-Time, five-man rotation. “Obviously each has their own reason, but those are the guys I think you’d have in your five-man rotation who can go out there and win you a World Series.”
Let’s take a look at the Aces who made Josiah’s rotation.
1. Marcus Stroman
First up is one of the most underrated arms in the game. Now Stroman’s win/loss record over his career won’t blow anyone away, but that is why we have to look beyond a team stat like W/L to show just how good Stroman has been over the years.
Stroman has kept his ERA below 3.25 in four of his eight seasons in the Bigs, a number that he has posted in both the National and American leagues. Stro has been burned by a lack of run support more than most. However, his five-pitch arsenal has been known to keep hitters off balance and produce an insane number of groundballs which usually gives his team a shot at winning.
He also fields his position as well as anyone in the game.
2. CC Sabathia
One of two lefties to make Josiah’s rotation, Sabathia is the perfect big game pitcher to help fill out this rotation. The last pitcher to record 250 wins, the former Cy Young winner has performed at the highest level on the biggest stage in the game, under the pressure of New York lights.
Sabathia was filthy during the Yankees 2009 World Series run, including going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 12 K’s in 16 innings pitched during the ALCS. Sabathia’s performance earned him ALCS honors en route to his
3. Gerrit Cole
The only other active player to crack Josiah’s five, Cole has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past 4 seasons. He may have been disappointing in his 2021 wild card start but take one look at his 2019 playoff run and you can see why players consider him one of the toughest draws in the sport.
The Astros would eventually fall to the Washington Nationals, but Cole was a workhorse for the ‘Stros the entire postseason. He went 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA, striking out 47 batters.
4. Randy Johnson
One of the most dominant lefties of all time, we’ve seen the Big Unit do it all come postseason. During his 2001 World Series MVP run Johnson was a force as a starter AND out of the bullpen. He and Curt Schilling did the impossible, dethroning the Dynasty Yankees who were looking for a fifth World Series in six seasons.
A 5-time Cy Young winner, a weapon like The Big Unit makes any rotation tough to beat.
5. Nolan Ryan
Rounding out the rotation is one of the most legendary (and unhittable) fireballers of all time. Known throughout baseball as the “Ryan Express”, Nolan struck out 300 batters five times over his illustrious 27-year career.
The gifted hurler also won 20 games five times while tossing a record seven no-hitters, three more than any other pitcher in MLB history.
Carl Edwards Jr. is playing with his fifth team in the last three seasons. The brother has certainly bounced around the league. The Washington Nationals took a shot on Edwards this season despite his struggles the past few years.
Edwards has shown that he can be effective on the mound and that people should not write him off.
When he joined the team in May, he immediately made his presence felt on the mound. After allowing three runs in his season debut, Edwards did not allow a run in his next 13 appearances.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez is very familiar with Edwards, as the two were together in Chicago with the Cubs. Martinez remembers what Edwards brought to the mound and he wanted Edwards to be a part of his team in the nation’s capital.
“I knew all along if he could stay healthy, and throw strikes, that he could help us, and he’s doing that right now,” Martinez said of Edwards back in June according to an article from NBC Sports. “I’ve had him, like I said, he was with me in Chicago, we knew what he could do if he pounded the strike zone, and his focus right now is throwing strikes, and he’s done a great job. I’ve used him in different situations, but he’s really done a great job for us.”
Edwards dealt with multiple injuries in 2021 and he only made seven appearances that entire season playing with two teams. He appeared in one game with the Atlanta Braves giving up three earned runs in 0.1 innings of work and then made six appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up four earned in 5.1 innings.
It was a trying year for Edwards as he looked to get back healthy and to make a comeback going forward. He’s certainly been doing just that this season and has been effective out of the bullpen for the Nationals by cutting down on the finesse and just rearing back and letting it loose.
“I’m not trying to nibble,” he said. “The more you’re in the strike zone, the more contact you get so the best thing for me with the way I have been pitching is if I’m getting weak contact and throwing 15 pitches less in an inning, it helps me out for the next day’s recovery. I have a speedier recovery. If I throw more, the recovery takes a little longer.”
Carl Edwards Jr. watching the Father’s Day message from his kids on the video board is everything. 💙
Through 26 games, he has a 2-3 record with a 3.60 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings of work. He has not appeared in this many games since the 2018 season when he made 58 appearances for the Cubs.
This is definitely a good sign to see from Edwards and although the Nationals have struggled this year, he’s been a bright spot out of the bullpen.
And Edwards is having fun being a part of the team as well.
“I love this team,” he said. “I’m relaxed here, but it just goes to show if anything happens and I’m not here, I’m still gonna wish these guys the best for the upcoming years. It’s because, like I said, these guys was the team that really had interest in me and was willing to give me the opportunity so it’s all I can do is say than you and continue to be myself.”
Watching Edwards throughout the season just goes to show you that you should never give up when adversity hits, and always put your best foot forward and work hard every day. That’s what grinding out a career at the major league level is all about.