Baseball has been played for a long time, so it’s not often there’s a true first. But there was earlier this week, as a game was played in front of no fans. That was in Baltimore. Fifty miles south on I-95, the Nationals are starting to heat up, propelled by a ridiculous comeback win. All that and more in my latest MLB recap for CBS Local.
When the Washington Nationals benched star pitcher Stephen Strasburg before the 2012 playoffs, general manager Mike Rizzo had this to say to any who opposed the decision: “We’ll be back and doing this a couple more times.” The implication was that the Nationals would get back to the playoffs and be in position for a World Series run in subsequent seasons. It was equal parts arrogant and naïve, both at the time and in retrospect, as the Nationals were bounced in the first round and did not make the playoffs the next year. They returned to the top of the National League East this season and will likely enter the playoffs, as they did in 2012, with the best record in the league. But the franchise can never atone for its mistakes two years ago.
Nothing excites baseball fans like a young ace. When one takes the mound, there is a palpable buzz in the stadium. There’s always the chance of something special. Tonight at Citi Field, two of the best young pitchers in baseball, Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg, square off. There will likely be a lot of strikeouts and few runs, the kind of game purists love.
The sample size is small, but this figures to be the first of many National League East battles between these two. Harvey, of the New York Mets, was taken with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft and has made just 13 career starts, his first coming in July last season. He will turn 25 next March. Strasburg was taken by the Washington Nationals with the first pick in 2009, debuted the following year, and has made 48 starts. He turns 25 in July. As the image above notes, they both have the size—6’4″, 220-225 pounds—of a dominant starting pitcher.
Continue reading A Pair of Aces: Matt Harvey vs Stephen Strasburg