Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:49 am
By Miss Chatter
Whoosh! That's the remaining air rushing out of the Nats season after their shiny new toy that filled seats both at home and on the road went on the 15-day disabled list for the 2nd time in a month. Let's face it - Strasburg is a mere mortal, not a superhero bestowed unnatural powers by the hopes and dreams of fans following this team. Indications on the field last night against the Cubs made it appear the team took the Stephen Strasburg news hard themselves in the 9-1 home series opener that made Cubs manager Lou Piniella's abrupt retirement the previous day look inconsequential. Is all hope lost in NatsTown? Or is this a mere bump? Either way, after twelve starts, the last of which ended with him pulled from the mound after 4.1 innings following shaking his pitching arm in bewilderment, Strasmas is over. Some fresh air is on the way, however.
A mere mortal, yes, but one with exceptional pitching talent and potential, Strasburg did make twelve starts before his rookie season in the major leagues was interrupted by a second trip to the 15-day disabled list. I gave up the twelve days shtick before then because, well, it got old and I heard complaints about overuse of the phrase. His first start on June 8th was really the lightning rod that sparked the flames of baseball fandom when he struck out 14 Pirates in his MLB debut. His other most notable start was actually his non-start that began the whole Miss IowaMiss Universe entertaining saga when Miguel Batista replaced him after Strasburg failed to get loose prior to the July 28th game, marking his first trip to the DL for shoulder stiffness. Ok, that's not fair. Strasburg had some excellent and some not-so-excellent outings in between with impossible expectations after his sparkling debut.
Strasburg pitched three more games after his return from the DL on August 10th, but didn't make it past 5 innings in any of them. His most recent outing in Philadelphia on Saturday only lasted 4.1 innings and he was pulled after a change-up left him wincing and shaking his pitching arm. Uh oh, not good. Everyone held their breath awaiting results of the MRI taken Sunday in DC. Until then, news sounded positive. Strasburg reportedly played light catch the day after being pulled and said he felt fine, although reports of him throwing were later retracted. Now NatsTown waits to find out the results of a 2nd enhanced MRI before releasing their breath and we know a second trip to the DL is on the menu.
Air seemed removed from last night's game as well, reflecting everyone's down feelings following the news of Strasburg's 2nd DL trip. Livo fell apart in the third inning. Willie Harris missed two seemingly catchable balls to right field, splaying himself in the right field grass and remaining there a few beats without hopping up to try to retrieve the ball the 2nd time, allowing a two run triple to former Nat Alfonso Soriano in the 3rd. Riggleman waved the white flag when he sent Jason Marquis to the plate as a pinch hitter in place of Miguel Batista as the third batter in a 1-2-3 5th inning with the Nats down 8-0 already.
While one top draft pick goes down (and for how long remains to be seen), another comes in. Bryce Harper, the young power hitting phenom drafted 1 this year and signed at the deadline, will be introduced prior to Thursday's game. I kind of hope he wears eye black at the press conference, but I've heard that aspect of his playing will be shut down. Another pitcher who displayed great promise in his brief rookie season, Jordan Zimmermann, will replace Strasburg on the mound Thursday in his first major league start since working his way back from Tommy John surgery in August of last year (making that a 12 month recovery and return). Thursday is also the 2nd and final Ladies Night of the season.
So there's your consolation prize of fresh air pumping into the organization as Strasburg joins me on the DL. And we'll always have Miss Iowa, who has become an avid Nats fan from afar. While I'm putting to bed the "Strasmas" phrase, I'm hoping the pitcher still has many positive surprises in store on the mound.