The Nationals will not make the playoffs this year. Stephen Strasburg is likely to be shut down within the day; Post Columnist and super Nationals booster Thomas Boswell may or may not have prompted this decision. Grim to the brim, eh?
The former is strictly related to the latter. Why take any sort of chance with a hot prospect when there is literally nothing to gain? The only negative is Strasburg may pitch less the next couple years due to innings counts which expand or contract depending on how much he pitches this year. At the same time, because this team, though improved, isn’t close to contending, this is the time to figure out what arms D.C. will have next year. Add in the Jim Riggleman awaiting his managerial fate, and this is an exciting time, all considered.
Tonight, the (five-inning limited) return of Jordan Zimmermann. I desperately wanted to say this pitcher showed just as much promise last year as Stephen Strasburg did this year, but Zimm’s numbers just don’t stack up to Strasburg’s. Not many pitcher’s do though, so that shouldn’t diminish the importance of his return. Bos has said Zimmermann could easily be a No. 3 starter for this team. When people start talking about this attribute, they are subtly suggesting this is a pitcher that can be in the rotation on a good team; not Mike Maroth on the 2003 Tigers (21 losses!).
Sometime in the next month, Yunesky Maya, a Cuban defector, will take the mound. By most standard metrics, Maya was the best pitcher in the Cuban league last year. This is promising because despite the United States’ relationship with Cuba, they still have been cranking out Major League players for 100 years.
The Nationals’ cupboard still looks stocked, but the exciting part about the last month of this season is we are finally getting to see how fresh the ingredients are. So now isn’t the time to stop paying attention.