Strasburg Continues to Dominate

Steve O Speak

The Washington Nationals might have come back to beat the Mets yesterday for a 6-4 win, and another series victory, but that wasn’t the best news they had yesterday. Stephen Strasburg, their much heralded pitching prospect, took the mound for Syracuse yesterday. It was his second triple-A start and the results were even better than his first.

Strasburg threw 6 innings yesterday against the Norfolk Tide of no-hit ball. Only two batters ever reached first base during Strasburg’s six innings, one on a walk and one on an error, and neither of those runners came close to crossing the plate. Strasburg completely fooled the Tide hitters all game, registering 7 strikeouts along the way. Strasburg bested his first start with the Syracuse Chiefs, when he went 6 innings and gave up both a walk and a hit.

In just 7 professional starts (not counting the Arizona Fall League), the San Diego State product has been as good as advertised (maybe even better). In five starts with Double-A Harrisburg, Strasburg compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.64 ERA. In 22 innings Strasburg gave up just 4 earned runs and held opponents to a .167 average. He also amassed 27 strikeouts to just 6 walks.

Since moving up to Triple-A where the hitters are more advanced, he has even been more dominate. Giving up just one hit and two walks in 12 innings of work. And in the process of keeping runs off the scoreboard he has amassed 13 strikeouts.

The Nationals couldn’t have hoped for a better performance than this. While all of Strasburg’s stats rank in the unbelievable category, the most impressive stat I’ve seen is that batters leading off an inning against the young phenom are 0-31. As any Nats fan will tell you, that will be a welcomed sight for the major leagues, as far too often Nats pitchers have allowed the lead off batter to get on and start a rally. For a team that has had back-to-back worst records in the majors, this season has been a huge relief for them. With last night’s win, they are 19-15 and solely in 2nd place in the N.L. East. And if the season ended today they would be tied with the Reds for the Wild Card spot. This season started out with bad news and looked like another 90+ loss season was on the horizon. With already one top young pitcher on the shelf for the majority of the season, Jordan Zimmermann, the Nationals learned another of their young guns would miss the first couple months of the season, Ross Detwiler. The injury bug bit further when their top free agent signing Jason Marquis also went on the shelf with an injury (after some horribly bad starts). Yet somehow the Nationals have endured, and have been a competitive and fun team to watch this year.

Now Detwiler nears a return to Washington, but his presence will be overlooked because of the inevitable arrival of Stephen Strasburg. While the Nationals haven’t said exactly when he is coming up, it won’t be any later than June 8th against the Pirates. With the arrival of Strasburg and the return of Detwiler (as well as a few other promotions), the Nationals could be legitimate contenders this year and going into next. And the best part about the arrival of Strasburg for the Nationals, is he will bring with him the national media attention (and a few sellout games) that will raise the profile of the franchise.

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