Stephen Strasburg: The Washington Nationals' Next Bob Gibson or Mark Fidrych?

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Stephen Strasburg: The Washington Nationals' Next Bob Gibson or Mark Fidrych?
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Is Stephen Strasburg a good pitcher? Absolutely.

Isn't his ERA Bob Gibson-ish? So far, so good.

Is he a great pitcher? It is too early to say.

Four starts, three of them quality starts, is not enough sampling to put a Cy Young crown on his head, and begin preparation for his Cooperstown enshrinement.

He has looked fantastic in his less-than-handful of starts, and I applaud him. In 50 years of watching this game, I have seen some would-be-greats come and go.

When Jay Bruce was called up to the Cincinnati Reds at the end of May in 2008, "Brucemania" took over the Queen City and most of baseball.

In his first 12 games he was batting .457, with an OBP of .554, with three HR, 11 RBI, and 14 runs. Immediate comparisons of Mickey Mantle ensued, and since he cooled off during his rookie campaign, the only thing left that resembles Mantle is his strikeout proclivity.

Before you start screaming at me, I am not wishing failure or anything negative for Strasburg. I am only suggesting that we let the kid breathe while he is getting his sea legs.

The Reds have a pitcher doing time on the farm. Maybe you have heard of him—Aroldis Chapman. A flame-throwing southpaw who throws so hard you can hear it. Everybody associated with the Reds thought he would be an early or mid-season call up.

Chapman is now 5-5 with a 4.12 ERA with AAA affiliate Louisville. He pitched in relief of Edinson Volquez yesterday, and now has the brass looking at him as a possible bullpen resident.

I have heard the buzz about the possibility of Strasburg being selected to the All-Star team. That is ludicrous. The man has a season (career) total of 25.1 innings of MLB work thus far, hardly a resume suitable to stand alongside Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun.

Strasburg has looked as impressive as anybody who has been handpicked to play with the big boys. In those 25 innings he has a record of 2-1 with a beautiful ERA of 1.78, 41 Ks, and only five walks. He has been touched for only two long balls, and his WHIP is a microscopic 0.947.

In 1976 the Detroit Tigers brought up a rookie by the name of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych (may he rest in peace). He looked like he was going straight to Cooperstown, no question.

In his first 14 games he was 10-2, with an ERA of 1.60 and a WHIP of 0.999 in 112 innings. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award in the American League, and finish second in CY voting with a 19-9 record and a 2.34 ERA.

So what happened to The Bird and "Birdmania?" Injuries. Knee problems were the first indicators of what was to be, followed eventually by a torn rotator cuff. He finished his career in 1980 with only 29 big league wins and a 3.10 ERA.

Gone was the glory, gone was his corner in Cooperstown, he never won seven games in a season following his rookie year. He was killed by his own dump truck in 2009 at the young age of 54.

So, let us give room and breathing space to young Strasburg. He needs to be a kid, and experience the feelings of the game and not be hounded by the press after every outing.

Fame and glory are fleeting things at best. In the Holy Bible we are given a snapshot of the shortness of life by James, "What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears." (James 4:14 Contemporary English Version).

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