Friday, July 16, 2010

And We're Back: Strasburg Time

(Photo taken by Keri Roberts for Capitol Baseball - 2010)

Welcome back to the unofficial 2nd half, ladies and gents. Cap Baseball has taken a load of for a few days to prepare for the exciting post-All-Star break festivities. So let's start the ride.

Tonight, Stephen Strasburg begins the push to the end of his season (late-August, early-September), quite possibly just in time to see Jordan Zimmermann return to the rotation with a week or two of overlap possible.

But before anyone worries about that, Strasburg has to take on the Florida Marlins in... Joe Robbie, no Pro Player, no Dolphin(s) Stadium, hm... Land Shark, nope, oh, right, Sun Life Stadium. (Aside: Seriously, who paid the money to switch the stadium from Dolphins Stadium to Dolphin Stadium in 2006. That is outrageous)

The Nats are 3.5 games behind the Marlins in the NL East... for 4th place... so this series is important for them to help close that gap. The Nationals decided to go with Strasburg just for this reason; they want to get the best start from the best pitcher they have to start the second half rolling. Strasburg is 3-2 with a still-impressive 2.32 ERA and 61 Ks. He'll take on Ricky Nolasco instead of Marlins ace Josh Johnson, since Johnson just pitched in the All-Star Game. (Nats hitters are undoubtedly relieved.) Still, Nolasco has been impressive with his 9-6 record and a passable 4.55 ERA.

The Nationals need to pick up where they left off at the end of the first half. I'm not talking so much about the Livan loss on the Sunday before the break. It's more about the run support that the offense has been able to generate (15 runs in the last 3 games). Not to mention Adam Dunn's 2- and 3-homer games and his .500 batting average in the last 5 games. And Zimmerman's .316 average in the same span.

Strasburg will have to face guys like Home Run Derby runner up Hanley Ramirez who is sporting a .301 batting average with 13 home runs and 53 RBI on the year, and his fellow phenom on the Marlins, Mike Stanton. Stanton tore up the the Marlins' minor league affiliate Jacksonville Suns early in the year, batting .311 and hitting 21 home runs in just 52 games. The Marlins had seen enough, and they brought him up in early-June. But Stanton hasn't been quite as unshakable as Strasburg. He's hitting just .231 with a .276 OBP, and facing Strasburg won't make it any easier for the young man.

I know that you're all as excited as I am to get back into baseball, so let's see what Stephen can offer the Nationals today. But more importantly, let's see what the Nationals offense can offer him in support.


  1. I still have nine games left on my season ticket package, but honestly the Strasburg games are probably the only ones I will watch on teevee for more than an inning or two when I'm not there in person.

    At least until Jordan Z comes back. :)

  2. It's nice to know that real Nats fans remembered who Jordan Zimmermann was. He was Strasburg before there was Strasburg, after all.