Washington Nationals: Why Their 'Big 3' Will Be All-Stars in 2012
The Nats have the best starting staff in baseball this season, led by Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has been nothing short of brilliant in the early part of 2012.
Behind Strasburg is the former ace of the Oakland A's, Gio Gonzalez, followed by Jordan Zimmermann, a homegrown talent like Strasburg, rounding up the Nats' three-headed monster.
On paper, the Nats looked to have one of the best starting staffs in all of MLB before the season started. Oftentimes the potential of names and numbers on a sheet of paper is drastically different from the results that are produced on the baseball diamond.
For these three, however, the results exceed the predictions, as they are making their push for the All-Star team in every outing.
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Strasburg is not only going to be an easy pick to be an All-Star—he might make a bid for the National League Cy Young by the time this season settles down.
Strasburg has been remarkable this season and has been the best pitcher in the league to this point.
His numbers are better than anyone could have predicted before the season began. Through five starts, he is pitching to a 1.13 ERA in 32 innings pitched while striking out 34 and only walking six.
Strasburg's fastball has been a blur for hitters. His average velocity on his fastball is 95.4 MPH this season, best in the majors among starting pitchers. He mixes in a curveball that averages 79.9 MPH and a tricky changeup averaging 88.3 MPH.
With the varying velocities and incredible movement, Strasburg is unhittable most of the time.
His control has been impeccable and is leading this pitching staff to victory after victory.
Strasburg will make his first All-Star team this season. The only question is whether he receives the nod to start the game. Every time he touches a baseball, he draws attention, so there is no reason to think he might not start the ballgame.
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Gio Gonzalez was the ace in Oakland and has not had any problems adjusting to becoming the No. 2 guy in Washington. He is making a case that he is ready to be an All-Star again, this time as a member of the National League.
Gio had a tremendous streak in the early part of this season already, throwing 25.1 innings without allowing a run.
Through five starts, Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA and has struck out 34 batters in 29.2 innings.
The 26-year-old lefty is in the prime of his career and will be an asset to the National League All-Star team. His first-half numbers over his entire career suggest that this season he will continue to dominate as he has early on.
His ERA before the All-Star break is 3.25, as compared to 4.36 after the break—a difference of 1.11.
Staying solid throughout the first half to make the team again is a safe bet.
He is also on pace to surpass his career high from last season of 197 strikeouts. This is the best Gio has looked in his career, and his talent will be on display in the Midsummer Classic.
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Another Nationals pitcher who fell victim to Tommy John surgery is finally healthy and making a huge impact in D.C.
With the offseason additions of Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson, Zimmermann is the guy that has been under the radar in Washington.
His start to the 2012 season is nothing short of sensational. He has pitched in 27 innings this season and has been untouchable at best.
He has allowed one run in each of his four starts and is the owner of the third-best WHIP in the majors, allowing only 17 hits and two walks.
Last season, he had a sub-.500 record but an impressive 3.18 ERA. Zimmermann is doing his best to showcase his skills to the rest of the league this year. A trip to the All-Star game will allow the world to see his skills.
Zimmermann starts games very strong and can certainly benefit the NL team the way that All-Star games are played today with pitchers throwing one or two innings at a time.
This season he is pitching to a .111 BAA in pitches 1-15. Typically, a pitcher does not go too many pitches over 15 in an All-Star game.
Hopefully this season he will have a record that rewards his dominance.
All-Star Game and Beyond
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All three of these pitchers deserve to make the All-Star team this season. Their numbers suggest that they are having phenomenal years, and they deserve to get a chance to show fans that they are as good as the numbers suggest they are.
This season will be a tremendous year for the Nats, and these pitchers will not stop once they make the All-Star team. They make up a part of a tremendous pitching staff that can achieve great things this season.