LOS ANGELES, February 13, 2013 — This year could be the year of the Strasmanian Devil. Forget about all of the other seasonal holidays, this may be the year that fans in Washington D.C. finally get to celebrate Strasmas. The Washington Nationals are prepared to cut the chain and let the Strasmonster loose on the world of Major League Baseball.
Stephen Strasburg has been a behemoth on the MLB radar from the time he was mowing down batters at San Diego State University. Since being drafted with the number one overall pick by the Nationals in 2009, fans had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this superstar phenom in hopes of seeing if he could live up to the lofty expectations that have been heaped upon him.
After enjoying a cup of coffee in the minors, the Major League debut of Stephen Strasburg came on June 8, 2010 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and he did not disappoint, throwing 94 pitches over seven innings while striking out a jaw dropping 14 batters. Armed with a four-seam fastball in the upper 90s, a two-seam fastball in the mid-90s, a changeup in the high 80s (you read that correctly), and a knee buckling slurve that breaks in the low 80s, the Strasburglar robbed Major League batters of their pride while making them look just plain silly at the plate.
Strasburg’s rookie season was going swimmingly and Strasmania was already running wild in the streets when he started having trouble in his pitching elbow. This trouble ultimately resulted in him having the infamous Tommy John surgery to repair the damage. So much for Strasmania. Strasmas was cancelled and the fans in D.C. had to put their hopes on hold.
He returned to the Nationals in September 2011 and made five good starts, but he was on a very short leash and had a pitch limit of about 75 pitches.
Strasburg entered the 2012 season healthy and ready to continue his rampage from the mound, but the Nationals said from the start that they would be cautious with the young hurler and would most likely limit his innings for the year. As the summer progressed, the number 160 loomed over the District of Columbia. The news stories in Washington throughout the season were all wondering the same thing: will the Nationals really shut down Strasburg if they are in contention to make the playoffs?
Well, the Nationals were in contention and they did shut down the man, the myth, and the legend in the making once he reached 159 and 1/3 innings. The team made the playoffs and then promptly exited, getting beat by the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5 game series. Naturally, everyone with even the faintest interest in the game began questioning the decision to shut down the deity known to us humans as Stephen Strasburg.
Alas, the dreams of what could have been in 2012 have been wiped clean and replaced with new dreams as fans face the start of a new baseball season. Stephen Strasburg is healthy and chomping at the bit to get back out there and exercise the demons of the last few seasons from the memories of the D.C. die-hards. Only time will tell, but this could be the year that the mighty Strasburg spreads his wings and soars to the next level of pitching dominance, the Cy Young Award.
Earning the Cy Young Award won’t be a walk in the park, however, as the National League is loaded with great pitchers, including Strasburg’s teammate, Jordan Zimmerman. As for another playoff run, the Nationals too have their work cut out for them in the east as the Atlanta Braves had a huge off-season, acquiring the Brothers Upton and putting together a very solid team that can compete neck and neck with the Nationals.
One thing is certain, a healthy Stephen Strasburg is that type of player who can put the team on his shoulders every fifth day and get you a win. Just give him one run and just watch the man go to work.
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