Thanks to injury and some rather poor planning against the possibility of injury by GM Jim Bowden, the Nationals are currently 'rolling' with the following rotation: Micah Bowie; Matt Chico; Jason Simontacchi; Mike Bacsik; Levale Speigner
Here's how this legendary group got assembled:
Bowie has been a servicable 12th man/LOOGY getting occasional major league stints throughout this decade; he hadn't gotten a professional start since 1999 prior to being press-ganged into service by the Nats.
Chico had never pitched above Double-A until breaking camp in the Nats rotation, and repeated that level *twice* for Arizona before showing enough last season to be included in the Livan Hernandez deal. He's got what passes for 'upside' in Washington these days.
Simontacchi sat out all of 2005 with a shoulder injury, and liked it so much he sat out most of 2006 as well, and had to start his comeback in an independant league. He hadn't started a game in the majors since 2003.
Bacsik has been a Triple-A swing man for many years, last starting a major league game in 2004 for Texas. He's arguably the *least* surprising guy on this list, as Bacsik is exactly the kind of pitcher teams should have in their organization in case of emergency.
Speigner is the strangest starter of all, a 26-year-old Rule 5 pick from the Twins of no particularly noteworthy ability who was drafted to provide bullpen depth, and who spent most of his minor league career as a reliever (he spent 2005 in the Twins Double-A rotation, only for them to move him back to the 'pen in 2006).
There have been expansion clubs that featured better rotations than this. And it's not like the team has a bunch of All-Stars on the shelf, either; this is a team anxiously awaiting the returns of Jason Bergmann and Jerome Williams. Yet shockingly, the Nationals do not have the worst starter ERA in the National League. That 'honor' belongs to the Cardinals, 5.34 to 5.00.
That's quite a tumble for a defending World Series champ. Washington's got Bowden for an excuse, St. Louis... what's yours?