Yesterday Stephen Strasburg Proved He Is The Man

 

 

Yahoo - For seven innings, Strasburg played puppeteer, with the Chicago Cubs his helpless marionettes. They flailed and thrashed, out in front and behind, the defending world champions enfeebled by a 29-year-old whose career, to this point, was defined as much by what he hadn’t done as what he had. On Tuesday, the Nationals said he wasn’t going to pitch. On Wednesday, the Cubs wished he hadn’t.

The changeup was the Nationals’ second-best okey-doke of the day. They penciled in Strasburg on the lineup card less than 24 hours after saying Tanner Roark was going to start because Strasburg was ill, possibly, according to manager Dusty Baker, due to mold. Whether it was antibiotics or an IV or a far more powerful analgesic than either – the knowledge that the baseball world never would look at him the same if he didn’t pitch Game 4 – Strasburg said he felt well enough Wednesday morning to call his pitching coach, Mike Maddux, and say: “Give me the ball.”

It’s what made Strasburg’s performance Wednesday so spectacular. Keeping your team in the game, giving it an opportunity to win, is one thing. Embarrassing the other team is something different altogether, something so few pitchers possess the ability to do. Strasburg is one of them, and with 22 strikeouts across 14 innings and a 0.00 ERA against the Cubs, he has looked every bit the No. 1 overall pick he was and $175 million pitcher he is.

Now, nobody can accuse Strasburg of ducking the moment drenched in spotlight. He asked for the ball, took it and did exactly what the Nationals needed to save their season.

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We might never know why Roark was originally scheduled to start, but all the facts line up to this:

Strasburg was sick on Tuesday and he let the team know. He tried to throw a bullpen session/run and cut it short because he was sick as shit. Dusty then made the decision on Tuesday to go with Roark on Wednesday because the team felt Stras would not give the Nats the best chance to win.

The internet then blew up, calling Strasburg a pussy for not pitching, but at this point I don’t think it was his call. The decision was made much too early, when Stras had the flu and didn’t think he’d be able to pitch. On Wednesday though, game day, as the story goes he was pissed the ball was taken out of his hands and told pitching coach Mike Maddux he was pitching. And then he proceeded to go 7 innings, striking out 12 with the filthiest change up you’ll ever see, and giving up only 3 hits and 2 walks. An all time playoff pitching performance, while not at 100%.

He proved the skeptics wrong. All the haters and losers, wrong. He proved he is the guy you want pitching with the series on the line. That he is one of the best pitchers of this generation. That he isn’t a mental midget, not an ace, or any of the other cliches thrown around.

The details around him not originally starting are still fuzzy. All the Nats had to do was make it a game time decision. Wait to see how he was feeling. They made a huge media mess for no reason, but at the end of the day, the best man was on the hill, and he led the Nats to victory. That’s how we will remember yesterday’s game, not the fact he wasn’t supposed to start to begin with. Being dominate will be Strasburg’s legacy.

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