Excitement for baseball has been minimal in our nation’s capital over the years. With a 31-39 record, fans can already see their team will more than likely miss the playoffs yet again. The Washington Nationals have never experienced postseason play or even a winning record since moving from Montreal in 2005. With Washington accumulating 100 losses over the last two seasons in a highly competitive division dominated by the Phillies, why would there be excitement to watch Washington Nationals baseball?
Stephen Strasburg is not just the talk of Washington D.C., but all of baseball. Standing 6-foot-4, this 21-year-old ace is blowing up radar guns as he hurls fastballs over 100 miles per hour with ease. With four starts already under his belt, Strasburg is 2-1 with a 1.78 earned run average and 41 strikeouts. He has more strikeouts than the majority of Washington Nationals starting pitchers, who have already logged over 10 starts. Despite a 100-pitch count cap, Strasburg is already averaging more than 10 strikeouts per game. Before we get too excited, let’s remember who Strasburg has faced in his first four starts. Both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians are last place in their divisions and all four teams including the Chicago White Sox are batting less than .250.
In response to Strasburg’s dominating performance against Cleveland, Indians Hall of Fame Ace Bob Feller kindly commented, “Call me when he wins his first 100.”
Although Strasburg has dominated batters thus far, his cloud has produced a silver lining for some of his defeated opponents. Following his 14-strikeout debut against Pittsburgh, Cleveland fans took note and purchased 4,000 tickets the following day to watch Strasburg battle their home team. Baseball fans across the country are marking five day increments on their calendars to see when Strasburg may be visiting their town this season. Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has declared that Strasburg will pitch every five days with a 100-pitch cap. Riggleman has promised to be very cautious with Strasburg, especially due to the criticism he has faced for overworking another highly touted rookie in 1999 named Kerry Wood. Wood struck out 12.6 per nine innings, won 13 games, earned Rookie of the Year honors and struck out 20 Houston batters in a single game during his rookie season. Riggleman does not want his new prodigy to battle the injury-riddled obstacles that have plagued Wood.
Strasburg has already exceeded expectations and we still have around 17 more starts to look forward to. It is obvious that he has the skill set to become one of baseball’s finest. Already, he has appeared on David Letterman and pitched in front of President Barack Obama. Not to mention, he also has a hamburger known as the “Strasburger” named for him. What a busy week for a 21-year-old!