MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

McCatty preaching excellence one pitch at a time

Nationals pitching coach recognizes, but downplays, expectations of rotation

McCatty preaching excellence one pitch at a time

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty hears it all the time. He is often told how great his pitching staff is going to be this season. After leading the Major Leagues with a 3.03 ERA last season, the Nationals fortified their rotation by adding right-hander Max Scherzer last month.

It all looks good on paper, but as McCatty points out, the Nationals have to play the games in order to get great results.

"There is always some sort of injury, something happens. You have to make sure that the baseball gods are on your side to have a great season. We'll see how it plays out," McCatty said. "Am I excited? Yeah. I'm excited every day just to see the growth of the pitchers from last year to this year."

Gonzalez on Nationals rotation

McCatty has been Washington's pitching coach since June 2009. It seems like yesterday when the Nationals had the worst pitching in the league. McCatty would sometimes yell at his pitchers to throw strikes. Six years later, throwing strikes is the least of McCatty's worries. As good as they are on paper, McCatty doesn't feel pressured to win every game this year.

"That's a nice thing," McCatty said. "Everybody says you guys have the lowest ERA. That's cool. Do I have pressure that we have to do it again this year? No. That's pretty dumb because we aren't shooting at numbers. When you shoot for a number, that's awfully hard to do. Until I'm done doing this job, I will say it every day: We play one game, one pitch, one hitter at a time. It's not tomorrow's game. It's not yesterday's game, it right here and it's now. Right now, we are getting ready for the season."

Outlook: Roark, SP, WSH

The Nationals currently have six starters, including Tanner Roark. McCatty doesn't hesitate to mention right-hander Blake Treinen as a possibility for the rotation. McCatty loves the depth the Nationals have entering the regular season.

"You have other options. But right now, we have six guys in the rotation for five spots. Come April 6, obviously, you will have an idea who is going to be in, but providing the normal things -- the aches and pains-- who knows what's going to happen. We'll see where we are at."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.