We Can Has Strasburg(er)

Fourteen strike outs in seven innings. Zero walks.

I know, I know. Strasburg’s was only facing the Pirates, who don’t count as a Major League lineup.

Dude. Shut up and enjoy it. Seriously. Fourteen strikeouts and seventeen swings and misses in seven innings would be awesome if Sabathia or Santana did it on their best days, and Strasburg did it on his first.

Strasburg isn’t going to strike out 14 every start and, for all we know, in his next start he could get positively lit up. The bar for this kid–he’s only 21–has been set so high that anything short of a 14 K performance is going to seem like a disappointment, and I can’t even begin to fathom shouldering that burden. (Of course, now that the Nats have Bryce Harper as well, Strasburg might not have to shoulder that load alone for too much longer.)

We’ve had baseball hype before, have for a long time, but we’ve never had anything quite like this. In the age of internet media, of blogs and 24/7 reporting, of pitch FX and Fangraphs, when sabermetrics has made enough strides for ESPN to start talking OPS and their TMI blog, every little thing that Strasburg does on the field is going to be analyzed, re-analyzed and spewed out like an overdone cheeseburger.

Hopefully, the Nats will be smart. They’ll take lessons from the case of Joba Chamberlain-not in Strasburg’s role, but in how perception can go awry if there is too much success too fast on the field and expectations are raised to unsustainable levels.

Then again, it seems that if there is someone who can, in fact, live up to the hype, it might very well be the one that did so in his very first start.

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