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Last Night's Winner: Stephen Strasburg Expectations

Illustration for article titled Last Night's Winner: Stephen Strasburg Expectations

In sports, everyone is a winner-some people just win better than others. Like our hopes and dreams for one talented rookie, which are a little more realistic this morning after he got shelled to high heaven.


It was a strong dose of reality for fans, and perhaps we should have seen it coming. The Nats couldn't jigger every start to be against the last place Indians, or last place Pirates, because they themselves are last in their division. So it was the next-to-last Marlins who knocked Strasburg around for six runs and six hits in four and a third.

He never had a chance. Not having pitched in three weeks, he was more than rusty. Couldn't throw his change. Couldn't get his curve over the plate. Had trouble getting past 96 on the gun. Nothing but meaty beaty big and bouncy fastballs, and Dan Uggla, who swings like every game is a home run derby, got ahold of a couple.

It happens. It happened, which is good. It's been tiring to watch the endless parade of Strasburg hype (I'm as guilty of that as anyone), but it would have been ten times worse next year to read the glut of "What's Wrong With Stephen Strasburg" stories, after he's been properly scouted and teams are getting their second and third looks at him. Now, maybe, we can put those to bed?

He's the best pitcher on his team, and there's little doubt he'll be one of the best in the league. But it's good to temper expectations early. When you burst onto the scene with a statistically incredible season, there's nowhere to go but down. Right, Kerry Wood? No pitcher that won the NL Rookie of the Year has lived up to the hype since Fernando Valenzuela, and given his hype, even that's debatable.

So he's human. He's given up as many earned runs in August as he did all of July. He "lowered" his K:BB ratio to 79:17. That's cool. It's just a bad game, after coming off the disabled list.

Or maybe he is the third coming of Kerry Wood (Mark Prior was the second), and his undeniable stuff will be sabotaged by his own body. Unclench those sphincters, Nationals fans. Waiting to see what happens next start, and next season, and this next decade is much more fun than expecting 14 Ks each game, and not getting it.