Sure the Nationals’ playoff hopes are dashed at this point but this is still (sometimes) a very fun team to watch. Yesterday was one of those nights. The team’s 4-0 victory over the Phillies was a great game even if Philly didn’t field a single player that deserved to start in an MLB lineup on an everyday basis. The Nationals won so easily it seemed like the Phillies were a college team (which, the Phillies actually lost to in spring training).
Stephen Strasburg continued his 2nd half resurgence with 8 shutout innings (just 1 hit and one walk allowed) while striking out 14. Don’t look now but he’s lowered his season ERA below 4.00 (3.98) and he’s struck out 27 in his past 15.1 IP- those are great numbers for a relief pitcher and unheard of for a starting pitcher. Strasburg got hit hard for the first few months of his season but since his return from the first stint on the disabled list, he has a 2.07 earned run average and 11.8 K/9 in 61 innings pitched. Strasburg’s 35.3% K rate and microscopic 4% walk rate during this span is a surefire recipe for success and his 2.15 SiERA indicates that his recent performance is very legit.
His 2.70 ERA in August while whiffing 35 and walking only 3 batters in 30 innings is Cy Young stuff. The filth has continued into September where in his two starts he has struck out 27 helpless souls while walking only 2. If Stras could put together a full season and not have so many lingering injuries we could be looking at one of the best pitchers in baseball year in and year out.
Bryce Harper, meanwhile, is 22 years old and, if he were a regular guy, could still be in the minors. Instead, he is putting together an undisputedly historic MVP season and knocked his 38th and 39th homers of the season yesterday. Harper is fast approaching Alfonso Soriano’s Nationals record of 46 dingers. 46 homers would also represent the most homers that a 22 year old has ever hit (Joe DiMaggio in 1937). Harper is already in the top 3 all time in most important offensive categories for 22 year olds and his competition tends to be players named DiMaggio, Williams, or some guy from the 19th century. Harper’s 9.6 bWAR, his crazy average, obp, power, and more all make him very very deserving of the National League’s MVP award at the youthful age of 22.
Sure the Nationals didn’t put it together this year with the bad starters, the loss of Werth, Zim, Span, and Rendon for most of the year, and the late year meltdown, but we are witnessing absolute greatness from Bryce, who is demolishing baseball right now, wether you like him or not.
Sure the Nats are 8.5 out, but it’s not all bad. You can’t win the division by double digits every year (I mean they won the East by 17 games last year, that hardly even makes sense). This was the Mets year, we’ll be right back in it next season.