Ryan Zimmerman up at bat
Opening day was what the Nationals have been waiting for. And what a way to debut the 2012 season.
Although the team just fell short of sweeping the series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, the Nationals showed up for the first two games and brought plenty of excitement. The opening series brought Spring Training to fruition, and for the Nationals, a much-anticipated look at some potential key players.
Let’s take a look at three major takeaways from the Nats’ opening series, and then I’m outta here.
Stephen Strasburg's season debut vs The Chicago Cubs
The gift we’ve all been waiting for.
We opened it up last season and then had to send it right back, but it looks like Strasburg is finally back and ready to play. Nats fans everywhere have been itching to see the 23-year-old potential phenomenon back on the pitcher’s mound after they got a taste of him at the beginning of last season.
Strasburg delivered against the Cubs allowing only one run and five hits in the seven innings he pitched on Opening Day. From the looks of it, he has recovered well from the Tommy John Surgery that caused him to miss the majority of the previous season. He certainly looked good as new as he struck out five and only walked one player. Coming back from a career ERA of 2.45, Strasburg’s game ERA on Thursday was 1.29. I can work with that.
The Nats picked Strasburg up for his quiet but swift play. When he pitches, you can't help but watch with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. He is a young player but very smart on the field. It’s refreshing to see a player who is well-respected by his teammates due to his calm and unassuming demeanor and systematic play. Strasburg could be the one to keep the team optimistic.
Opening Day was a very Merry Strasmas for Nats fans. Let’s hope this holiday continues.
Ian Desmond prepares to run after his hit
A typically less-publicized player, Ian Desmond seemed antsy to get started after Spring Training.
And we like it.
Desmond hit the tie-breaking single in the ninth inning on Opening Day to lift the Nationals over the Cubs 2-1. The first of the two runs for the Nationals was from Desmond himself. The second one was scored by Brett Carroll after Desmond singled to the right. Desmond is excited and has a lot to prove. He struggles defensively at shortstop, but I have a feeling that he’s going to help light the team up at bat. His on-base percentage is looking pretty good at .368 and is higher than his career average of .305. It’s time to give Desmond a chance. Personally, I’m interested to see how he does this season.
Desmond seems like he’s got some more good plays up his sleeve and I’ll be waiting with bated breath.
The Nationals will most likely not make a whole lot of noise. There won’t be huge winning streaks or blowout final scores. But expect the Nationals to be the unexpected competitor, creeping up in the power rankings throughout the season and potentially making their way to the playoffs. With options in the bullpen, the Nationals may surprise a few teams this season.
There are quite a few things to look out for: The Nats picked up popular A’s pitcher Gio Gonzalez, and fans are hoping to see Jayson Werth’s big paycheck actually pay off for the team. The middle relievers and closer Rodriguez came through during the beginning opening series against the Cubs but faltered a bit on Sunday with the 3-4 loss.
The Nats moved up seven spots in the power rankings placing them at ninth overall and second in the National League. Not a bad start for the DC team. If you’ll be in the nation’s capital this season, I’d suggest you check the team out at Nationals Ballpark. I’m all for seeing some “Natitude” come out on the field.
So, I’m going to have my strikeout cards ready when Gonzalez and Strasburg are up on the mound. I'm going to keep a close eye on Desmond at bat. And just for good measure, I’ll keep my fingers crossed too.
What with the Capitals making the playoffs and the Redskins close to snagging RG3...
This could be our year D.C.