16 July 2010
As soon he came up I had to look at the Marlins schedule. I had to find out when the Marlins were playing the Washington Nationals. Earlier this week I again had to find out who the Nationals projected starters were going to be, and when he was going to pitch. The person that I am talking about is of course Nationals rookie pitching sensation Stephen Strasburg. He is the most hyped pitching prospect to come to the majors ever, and the hype around his greatness can probably only be compared to that when LeBron James entered the NBA. After watching him pitch in the minor leagues, Curt Shilling said that Strasburg could be the best pitcher in the majors the day he arrives in the Nationals clubhouse. In his first outing he proved that he was worth all the hype winning his first start in the majors and striking out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates. And after tonight getting to see him in person I can admit that he is as good as advertised.
Tonight the Nationals were in Miami playing there first game after the All-Star break. Stephen Strasburg took the mound for his eighth start of the season and got off to a vert rocky start. In the first inning alone Strasburg threw 34 pitches, 16 for balls, and walked two, Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty even came out to talk to Strasburg after 28 pitches. However after walking Hanley Ramirez, who was then caught stealing, in the third Strasburg seemed to find his grove. Strasburg finished the night throwing 100 pitches in 6 innings giving up 4 hits, no runs, 3 walks, and striking out 7. Even though it was obvious (even from my seats in the outfield) that he did not have his best stuff tonight he still managed to throw 97 mph consistently and at times made the Marlins’ batters look foolish. Gaby Sanchez and and Cody Ross especially took some swings that it looked as though they were just guessing where the pitch was going to go, and no Marlins hitter real made any great contact.
With tonight’s win, Strasburg lowered his ERA to a mere 2.03 and his strikeout to walk ratio is now just under 5 to 1. There is no doubt that Strasburg is already one of the top pitches in the major league, the only real test left for Strasburg is to see how he will fare after an inning or start where he gives up five or more runs (most runs giving up so far is 4, 3 of which were earned, against Atlanta).
The only major whole in Strasburg’s game seems to be his hitting. I have already said what my views are about pitchers batting in the National League are, but Stephen is a really poor batter. After the game against the Marlins, Strasburg is hitting .071 with one hit for the year. In the fifth inning today with one out and a runner on first, Strasburgh whiffed so badly on a bunt attempt that the bunt sign was taken off, and he tried a hit and run. After fouling a ball straight back, Strasburgh swung and missed and Ian Desmond was thrown out at second.
It was not all bad news for the Marlins as Rick Nolasco actually looked like the better pitcher through the first five innings, striking out eight and giving up just two hits. But it all fell apart in the sixth inning when he gave up a bases loaded triple to Josh Willingham. The Marlins bullpen then came in and pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, which is a good start to the second half for a bullpen that in the first half of the season was pretty bad.
However it might be to little to late as the 4-0 loss tonight pushes the Marlins to 5 games under .500 and 11 games behind Atlanta. With just over two weeks left till the trading deadline the Marlins may start looking towards the future and trade away players like Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, and/or Cody Ross to make room for players like Logan Morrison and Cameron Maybin, who many in the Marlins’ Management believe to have long major league careers ahead of them.
Unless Florida starts to get hot, it looks as though the Marlins and Nationals are heading for fourth and fifth place finished in the NL East. While this will disappoint many fans on both sides, one thing they will both have to look forward to is that in Josh Johnson and Stephen Strasburg they will have two of the best aces in baseball to build around.