Aug 15, 2012, 5:30 PM EDT
US Presswire file photo
Stephen Strasburg faces Tim Lincecum this afternoon at AT&T Park.
If asked back on Opening Day for the best head-to-head pitching matchups you could see at some point during the season, Stephen Strasburg vs. Tim Lincecum surely would have made the short list.
As it turns out, this isn't quite as marquee a showdown as you would have expected, because Lincecum (6-12, 5.35 ERA) hasn't been his Cy Young self most of the year. Don't sell "The Freak" short, though, especially inside AT&T Park, where he still boasts a 3.66 ERA and 1.297 WHIP this season.
As for Strasburg, this outing will provide plenty more fodder both for those who support and those who deride the Nationals' plan to shut him down before season's end. If the right-hander dominates, it will only enrage the naysayers to question Mike Rizzo's sanity even more than they already have. If he struggles, the supporters will insist this is further evidence Rizzo know exactly what he's doing.
Two points: 1) It's truly unfortunate this debate has consumed so many people and in the process taken attention away from both Strasburg's actual performance and the Nationals' best-in-baseball season, and 2) It doesn't matter one lick what anyone thinks or says about this matter, because Rizzo made up his mind almost one year ago and he's not about to change it now.
So how about we just enjoy today's event in San Francisco for what it is: A potentially fantastic ballgame between two of the best teams in baseball, each of which is sending a fantastic young pitcher to the mound in search of a series victory?
I'm not there, unfortunately, but given the early start time and the significance of the game, I'll have some thoughts to share along the way, so please be sure to check back…
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Where: AT&T Park
Gametime: 3:45 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv, MLB Network (outside D.C. market)
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 186
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees, Wind 9 mph out to RF
2B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
NL EAST STANDINGS
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Braves 7:35 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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