Washington Nationals Tickets – All Eyes on Strasburg

January 9, 2011
Washington Nationals
by wallyg

The supposed savior of the Washington Nationals franchise, Stephen Strasburg, is set to make his big league debut on June 8th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Considering that Strasburg is one of the most highly touted pitchers ever to hit the bump, the fanfare surrounding his start will be astronomical.

For a Nationals team that has had a very mediocre start to its tenure in Washington, Strasburg has quickly become the most important player in the franchise’s history and is being counted on to do considerably more than just sell <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’, ‘/outgoing/article_exit_link’]);” href=”http://www.stubhub.com/washington-nationals-tickets/”>Washington Nationals tickets</a>.  In many ways, the future of baseball in Washington could rely solely on the powerful right arm of Strasburg, which is an amount of pressure that could rattle even a savvy veteran, let alone a kid who has yet to celebrate his 22nd birthday.

Depending on which account you listen to, Strasburg is a combination of Roger Clemens and Cy Young.  Or was it Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson?  So many comparisons have been made between Strasburg and Hall-of-Famers that they’ve become difficult to keep straight, and it seems that many fans are already fitting him for his bronze bust for Cooperstown.  In a way, the amount of build-up surrounding Strasburg is comical, particularly considering how long it typically takes starters to develop into viable Major League Pitchers.

But then again, if there is anyone who might be able to live up to the hype, it may just be Stephen Strasburg.  At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Strasburg has a freakishly live arm that helps him consistently hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun.  Strasburg throws a heavy fastball with plenty of movement, making it devastating to both righties and lefties.  What’s more impressive is that his fastball isn’t even his best pitch; that would be his curveball/slider, which Strasburg refers to as a slurve.  Lots of top-tier pitchers have heavy fastballs and strong breaking pitches, but few have the combination of break and accuracy that Strasburg has.

Not only does he make plenty of batters look silly with his fastball and slurve, Strasburg also has a changeup that he can throw for a strike.  Though it still usually crosses the plate in the high 80s – a rarity for an off-speed pitch – it still has enough of a MPH differential to make it unbelievably difficult to hit.  If Strasburg can throw all three pitches for strikes, which he did in college and has through his starts in the Minors, he can be nearly unhittable.

So unhittable has Strasburg been that he was simply too good for the Minor Leagues.  Though the Nationals certainly assumed he would come up to the big club sometime this season, few could have predicted his ascendency would be so quick.  In his first Triple-A starts, Strasburg posted a 3-0 record with an eye-popping 0.39 ERA, though he did finally struggle a bit in his fourth start.  Considering that Triple-A is filled with players on their way up to the Majors, it was evident from very early on that his pitching talent is already good enough to join the Nationals rotation.

At home against the Pirates for his first big league outing, Strasburg also has the perfect opponent.  The Pirates have the second worst offense in the league and the Nats are a solid 14-10 at home this season.  The ovations will be nothing short of thunderous as Nats fans – and baseball fans in general – watch Strasburg take the mound for the first time.

Of course, the beauty of baseball is that almost nothing matters in the short-term due to the length of the schedule.  Still, many will be ready to call him the real deal or severely overrated, depending on how he fares in just one outing.  But bigger than a cheap prognostication based on one start is what Strasburg means to the entire league, which is still looking for talented players to replace the steroid-linked greats from the recent past.  If you’re a true baseball fan then you’ll be sure to watch with curious eyes to see how the latest “greatest pitcher ever” will do during his highly anticipated arrival.  Sink or swim, Strasburg is guaranteed to be interesting from here on out.


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