Should the Nationals be concerned about Harper and Strasburg?
Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg haven’t gotten off to quite the start most National’s fans would have hoped, but is it time to panic this early in the season? It may be a bit premature to be overly concerned but I am finding myself more concerned about Strasburg than Harper.
On a positive note, Bryce Harper has had no trouble in the field this season; his struggles have come at the plate. I am not overly concerned about this for a couple of reasons. First off, hitting slumps happen; it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Secondly, Harper has far too much talent for it to continue.
I also think Harper’s struggles may be partly mental. That’s not to say he has lost his confidence, but I think Bryce is probably frustrated with his slow start to the 2014 campaign, and may be trying a little too hard to make an impact at the plate. This is another reason why I’m not too concerned over Harper, because I think once he knocks that first homer out of the park a weight will be lifted off his shoulders and he will be back to his Mr. Clutch-hitting-machine self.
Strasburg’s situation isn’t quite as positive as Harpers in my opinion. Although Strasburg hasn’t necessarily looked bad in either of his two outings this season, he has yet to record a win and he hasn’t returned to his once dominant form in which he was one of the most feared pitchers in the MLB.
Strasburg’s situation is also more complicated than Harper’s when you take into account he is only few years removed from Tommy John surgery, one of the toughest recoveries in sports, which typically takes 12-18 months to fully recover.
Until Strasburg proves this season that he is still capable of taking over and completely dominating a game, I will remain a bit skeptical of his outlook. Luckily for the Nationals their other pitchers have stepped up and pitched very well, the latest being Taylor Jordan – who had an excellent outing in a 2-1 win against the Atlanta Braves.
The positive spin on Strasburg’s “struggles” (or probably better put as Strasburg not living up to “Strasburg expectations”) is that he is still an effective pitcher, and with the rest of the Nationals pitching staff stepping up, they don’t need him carry the team. However, if Strasburg can return to ace form and start to dominate games again, the Nationals could find themselves playing deep into October, and possibly competing for a World Series title.