Two burning questions for DC baseball

These are exciting times for fans of the Orioles and Nationals.  Both franchises are experiencing success at levels not enjoyed for years.  The Orioles have not enjoyed a winning season since 1997 and currently sit in second place in the AL East and first in the race for two wild-card spots.  The Nationals are blowing away the competition and enjoy the best record in baseball and a 4 ½ game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.  Yet two burning questions remain for these clubs.  Let’s look at each.

Question 1:  Are the Orioles for real?  The team batting average is 10 points lower than last year but team ERA is down from 4.89 to 4.04.  The Orioles are 11th in team defense and are 12th in stolen bases but have turned on the power and are fourth in the AL in home runs.  The key here is they are second in bullpen ERA and have managed to win 12 straight extra inning games and are very tough in one run affairs and lead the league with a 22-6 record.  Statistically, this club is all over the place but in short, they are powerful, slow, strikeout way too much, and are just are always an injury away from complete disaster with their starting pitching.  Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette and Manager, Buck Showalter have made some serious lemonade out of these guys and the team has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.  It seems like everyone except the players have written them off.  Duquette is rolling the dice by promoting their 20-year phenom, Many Machado, from double A Bowie, and given him the starting third base position.  So far so good as Machado homered three times in his first three games and set the town on fire.  I attended Machado’s first game and the buzz at the park was intense; very similar to what’s going on in Washington with Bryce Harper.  The O’s hit the road for a critical six game set against the Tigers and Rangers and I’m looking for them to get a split and return home in the thick of the wild-card race.

Question 2Is it right for the Nationals to shut down Stephen Strasburg after 160-180 innings given their real opportunity to challenge for a world championship?  Two schools of thought here.  1) Protect the team’s investment for the long run.  2) Play Strasburg until the end and go for the championship now.  I fall into the latter camp.  Strasburg is a big boy and can tell you when he’s hurting or thinks he’s at risk.  You could do diagnostics on the ligament/tendon where the Tommy John repair was done and do them on a regular basis while he continues to compete.  Momentum is fleeting in baseball; just look at the Phillies preseason expectations and regular season performance.  The Nationals may never get another opportunity to get this close and a single world championship on any player’s resume tops a career.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Nats will shut him down.  If John Lannan comes in and wins some critical starts in Strasburg’s place, great.  But if he loses a critical game and they falter, GM Mike Rizzo is gonna get run out of town.

About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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