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Premier matchup tonight in New York

Apr 19, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Any franchise trying to build itself into a legitimate contender knows one of the first pieces to a championship puzzle: An ace atop its rotation.

The Nationals knew this as they constructed their current club, tabbing Stephen Strasburg nearly four years ago as the No. 1 starter who would ultimately lead this team to the promised land. And, more recently, the Mets drew the same conclusion, selecting Matt Harvey seventh overall in the 2010 draft and hoping the big right-hander would develop into an ace.

Tonight, we get to see these two premier young hurlers go head-to-head, with Strasburg and Harvey drawing the starting assignments for the opener of a weekend series at Citi Field.

Harvey isn't shying away from the attention this elite matchup will receive.

"It's our first game back from a long road trip, and the Nationals are a good-hitting lineup," he told reporters on Wednesday. "AndRead more ยป

  1. Whack-a-Mule - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Mule loves pitching and defense. It is excited by the prospect of two elite (albeit young) pitchers squaring off for what one hopes will be a pitchers' duel. Harvey can, at least at this stage of his career, be every bit a dominating as Strasburg. The respective supporting casts give the edge to Strasburg, but it will hinge upon which pitcher is the sharper this night.

  2. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    One of these series the Nats will settle down and jell. After a day off, and getting Harper and Span healthy, this could be the one. Strasburg has the best stuff in the game, and is still learning how to use it. He is still the youngest guy on the staff. When Detwiler was 24, he wasn't worth squat, and now look at him. I like Suzuki back there calling the game because of his experience.Tighten up the IF defense and Stras should be just fine. If they play sound fundamental baseball they could be on a winning streak before you can say Steve Lombardozzi.

  3. m - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    This could be a tough one for the Nats. The Mets have been hitting the ball. My fear is that the Mets get a couple of "seeing eye" hits combined with an error or two to a score a few runs. Hopefully this does not include a HR which Stras is want to do. As a result Stras' pitch count goes up and Davey takes him out for pitch hitter in the 5th inning. The Nats bats do not touch Harvey and Mets win. I hope I am wrong but I have seen this scenario play out with Stras on a few occasions. One thing we have going for us is that the Mets have no bullpen so we might have the 8th and 9th innings to score our runs. This assumes our bullpen does not implode.

  4. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    One blogger's "prediction" — the first no-hitter of the season will be Harvey's. Somehow, I don't think so. He has to go through our Kid.First no hitter?http://60ft6in.com/2013/04/18/predicting-the-seasons-first-no-hitter/

  5. 3on2out - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    I don't know, Mark, how meaningful that statistical comparison is…how about 2013?Strasburg: 1-2, 2.94, 18.1, 17, 6, 5, 15Harvey 3-0, 0.82, 22.0, 6, 2, 6, 25Gulp.

  6. mick - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    If Nats go 9-6 every 15 games, they win close to 98 games. If anything, I think 9-6 is the low bar for them and I think this team could go 11-4. or 10-5 every 15 games. Not too bad

  7. Dave - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    "Seeing-eye" singles are a function of BABIP, not skill.I have non-waning confidence in the Nats this weekend

  8. Grandstander - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Any word on Espinosa?

  9. natsfan1a - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    My confidence = steady as she goes.

  10. A DC Wonk - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Yowza. I had no idea how good Harvey is. He's a year younger than Stras, and, as 3on2out noted above: in three starts this season he's allowed only _six_ hits!Yowza!

  11. A DC Wonk - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Weird stats of the day:- The Phillies have not walked in four games.- In 29 innings so far this year, Adam Wainwright hasn't walked anyone.- The Giants are 0-4 when Matt Cain starts

  12. waddu eye no - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    step right up and BEAT the mets!

  13. 3on2out - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Waddu!I like it!

  14. SonnyG10 - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I believe as Stras get further away from his TJ surgery, he will gain better control of his location. Pitch location has caused Stras some stress so far this year.

  15. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    I want to see Harper's at bat against Harvey tonight. should be loads of fun.

  16. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    From WaPo,The scene in Boston is eerie, with streets deserted and the city on lockdown as the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber continues.Later today, a baseball game is scheduled at Fenway Park, but, like everyone else in the city right now, the Red Sox and Kansas City Royals are going nowhere.

  17. EmDash - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    To compare Strasburg and Harvey this season is difficult, though, as they've faced different line-ups. Harvey's faced the Phillies (okay team), and the Padres and Twins (poor teams). Stras has faced the Braves and Reds (great teams) and the Marlins (poor team). That's not to say that Harvey's not very good, of course, because he is. But quality of opponents has to be kept in mind.

  18. A DC Wonk - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    To compare Strasburg and Harvey this season is difficult, though, as they've faced different line-ups. Harvey's faced the Phillies (okay team), and the Padres and Twins (poor teams). Stras has faced the Braves and Reds (great teams) and the Marlins (poor team). That's not to say that Harvey's not very good, of course, because he is. But quality of opponents has to be kept in mind.Point taken. But fully 1/2 of Harvey's starts last year were against playoff teams — and he had the second best WHIP of their starters (Dickey). And (again) he's younger than Stras.

  19. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    NatsLady said… Did someone say Gattis was on the decline? He just won the game for ATL with a two-run dinger. Then they went to O'Faherty and Kimbrall, game over, 6-4. April 18, 2013 10:25 PM Did you see how the Royals pitched him? Almost everything away or sliders down in the zone. The Pirates pitched him inside and middle (not as far up in the zone as Strasburg).I spoke to an advanced scout who doesn't know the player and he was laughing about it because the scouts do their job and then the relief pitcher faces him as a pinch-hitter, the pitching coach comes out to talk to the relief pitch and you have to wonder what they were discussing as the HR pitch is inside and middle and he bangs it out.I think you can call that Gattis's happy zone on the inside that he can turn on.I was able to determine just from a couple of conversations and pitch charts from his 1st 7 games how you pitch him. He hasn't been able to hit a slider yet that wasn't hanging and nothing away for power.By the way, he was batting .262 before that pinch-hit HR.This is why you have scouts and scouting reports although he may have missed his spot. http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/cache/numlocation.php-pitchSel=453172&game=gid_2013_04_18_atlmlb_pitmlb_1&batterX=68&innings=yyyyyyyyy&sp_type=1&s_type=3.gif

  20. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    It's one thing for MLB to take a guy's jersey for the hall of fame, but to auction it off? Whether or not for charity, that kind of stinks. Does MLB own all the equipment and clothing they use?

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/04/19/bryce-harpers-opening-day-jersey-sold-for-13000-and-hes-pissed-about-it/There's a h/t to NatsLady on getting this to Craig Calcatarra.Impressive!Also of note, those auctions are always "net proceeds" to the charity. We will never know what that translates to and most of the teams do it that way.Glad to hear that Bryce was so passionate about it. I know he keeps his own bats. He is into the history of the sport and collects. Very cool!

  22. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    If Nats go 9-6 every 15 games, they win close to 98 games. If anything, I think 9-6 is the low bar for them and I think this team could go 11-4. or 10-5 every 15 games.Yup, the Nats would have a pretty good record if they could play the Marlins 64 times this season.

  23. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Tonight may be a key point in prognosticating what kind of season Strasburg is going to have. His defense may not have been stellar but he's shown a Gonzalez-like lack of focus on a couple of occasions. On a pace to go 11-22; kinda hard to win a Cy Young w/ those numbers. (Yeah, I know it's early, yada, yada, etc. But when you've got Strasburg's alleged talent, your job when a couple of runners get on without earning it is to shut the other team down and pick up your teammates. So far his performance this season is undistinguished. The Mets have at most three bona fide major leaguers in their BO. A good pitcher should dominate.)

  24. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Kudos to NL on the Harper tip. Do tell about Craig C. "trolling" you about the Strasburg shutdown…

  25. JaneB - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    I know, 222. I saw the same Tweet from Harper. I felt bad for him, and hope his agent bought it for him. I had no idea that Harvey was this good. The Mets used to be "my" team, and as of last year, I pay next to no attention to them. This is just more evidence for that. SHould be a great game tonight. May The Kid get the best of Harvey, and may Stras be his lethal self.

  26. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    Section 222 said… It's one thing for MLB to take a guy's jersey for the hall of fame, but to auction it off? Whether or not for charity, that kind of stinks. Does MLB own all the equipment and clothing they use? Unless it's written into a players deal like Barry Bonds, the team pays for the jerseys and owns them and generally pays for the bats but there are many players that pay for their own bats.The teams also understand the importance of some of the HR baseballs and many times are negotiating to retrieve those.Bryce had a chance for the HR ball he hit out on Opening Day and the "Werth look-a-like" said he was told Bryce didn't want it.Also Bryce could afford to bid on the jersey or do a behind-the-scenes deal for the jersey if he really wanted it, right?

  27. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    There's more pressure on Strasburg tonight than Harvey. My thoughts are work Harvey with lots of pitches and see how it goes. If Harvey has great stuff, go to Plan B which is frustrate him with some small ball to score a couple of runs for Stras and then blow it open when you get into the Mets bullpen!

  28. Section 222 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Also Bryce could afford to bid on the jersey or do a behind-the-scenes deal for the jersey if he really wanted it, right?Of course. But it sounds like they didn't even tell him they were doing it. You're a collector, right Ghost? What's the protocol here? Do they tell the player they are going to auction off his stuff? Do they collect all star players' jerseys and see what they can get for them? Sounds like a pretty lucrative business.

  29. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:58 PM

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  30. peric - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Yeah but the problem is the Mets hitters are probably pretty excited about facing the Nat's bullpen. So, they will be doing their best to get Strasburg out of the game. Storen, Clippard, et al tend to leave balls up and they become dingers.

  31. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    222, also gave Craig the tip about the Chiefs losing 27-9, so it was a good night… Yeah, I was a Rizzo defender last year, didn't get a lot of love except from other Nats fans–and we got accused of just buying the party line.As I'm watching JZ, I'm thinking Strasburg's Cy Young year might be next year, not this year.

  32. peric - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    The Chiefs started Tanner Roark imploded and then they followed with the experiment named Bramhall who hadn't pitched in a while. Then watchlist prospect Patrick McCoy imploded. Then they got desperate and brought in Jeff Mandel (He should have been the spot starter in the double header not Tatusko but … ) JC Romero had to record the final out. The Chiefs suffered from the long layoff due to the cold and rain of spring time in upstate NY. Many people don't realize but this area is actually cloudier on average than the temperate rainforest known as Seattle! They have more cloudy days, fewer sunny days, and a lot more precipitation. Yet Seattle has that reputation … when it truth Syracuse and Quebec City are the rainiest/snowiest/cloudiest places.

  33. peric - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Larger city-wise by comparison …Yes, there are smaller places that have it a lot worse like Cortland NY.

  34. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Speaking of rain,Forecast for NYC.Tonight:Cloudy with rain likely. A thundershower is possible as well, especially early. Low 52F. Winds SW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 90%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.

  35. EmDash - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    There's "are the Nats overrated?" articles out there now, which amuses me a bit. The same people writing them are generally the ones who spent the pre-season saying things like "is this the most complete team in baseball? or EVER?" Bit difficult to immediately live up to that kind of hype, and also, you know, it's mid-April.

  36. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    You might like this article. Pretty high grades for the Nats on pitcher mechanics (except for Haren) with GIFs.Raising Aceshttp://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20285

  37. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    EmDash–yeah, it's ironic. The same analysts who rated the Nats so high are asking if the Nats are overrated. Hey, guys, look in the mirror. Anyway, only minor injuries and the flu to date. Nats are the same team they were on March 31 when all those ratings were posted. It's more like, were the Barves underrated?

  38. John C. - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Theophilus, your credibility ebbs when you judge a pitcher by W/L record. When Stras left the game against the Braves he should have been ahead; he was only trailing because of Zim's error and the offense's inability to score runs. That means he's a bad pitcher exactly how?Strasburg's (SSS) 2013 stats: 18 1/3 IP, 8R, 6ER, 2.95 ERA, 3.00 K/BB, 1.2 WHIP. Even in a small sample size (the Reds' first three runs were scored on a series of bleeders and bloops) Strasburg is fine, thanks. Despite the W/L record, Strasburg has been one of the strengths of this team. Remember when Jordan Zimmermann wasn't getting any run support? That's where Strasburg is right now. When a pitcher has a 2.95 ERA but his team only scores two runs per start, his W/L record will be poor. Not his fault.

  39. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    believe it or not, I enjoy 'are nats overrated?' articles. sometimes it takes an outsider to see what we are doing wrong.then again some wrongs that will be pointed out, won't exactly turn out to be wrongs.

  40. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    At least, I'm hoping Ramos and Espi's injuries are "minor."

  41. peric - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Right now Atlanta is taking it to the Nats … as they have been doing the entire offseason right into today. Just like the BJ Upton signing … Atlanta has caused the Nats to stagger back …Its on Rizzo and Johnson to battle back.

  42. peric - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    I'm hoping Ramos and Espi's injuries are "minor."Ramos is recovering from major knee surgery and he's a catcher.Espinosa has a disconnected rotator cuff in his shoulder. What part of that isn't serious?

  43. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Ramos and his hamstring could be an issue. See Evan Longoria last year.

  44. Dave - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Quite frankly, I welcome all this "Nats-are-overrated" talk. Puts the Nats in more of an underdog position. I always was nervous about all that talk anointing the Nats as The Most Complete Team. Put the target on somebody else's back for a change. Let's wait for the inevitable slump of the Braves and see how the discourse shifts.

  45. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    NatsJack, great point but it's like any injury. If they don't rush him back it won't be a problem.

  46. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Section 222 said… Of course. But it sounds like they didn't even tell him they were doing it. You're a collector, right Ghost? What's the protocol here? Do they tell the player they are going to auction off his stuff? Do they collect all star players' jerseys and see what they can get for them? Sounds like a pretty lucrative business.Yes, if you have read about me I covet Hall Of Fame quality items from the top HR hitters and have purchased several of Bryce's items already. I get most of my items directly from the players themselves. Keith Olbermann is tough competition. All I know is a person who calls himself "Bart" bought this jersey.The teams own the jerseys and all players know from the time they are in the Minors that is the case unless they write something into their contract like Bonds did or ask the team. That jersey didn't go on auction until April 8th. Where did Bryce think the jersey was?I love Bryce but this is laughable that he waits for the auction to end to Tweet to the world he was "wronged". Come on.

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Sect222, the fuzzy area is WBC and All Star games where MLB owns the items and the players keep their jerseys and MLB gets the BP jerseys, and the World Series items is shared between MLB, the teams, and the players.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Traveling. Have to run. Good luck. I will check in from the road!

  49. Theophilus T. S. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    John C — Don't give me "Strasburg should have been ahead" when he left the game. Stasburg's the guy who gave up the HR to a rook w/ two out. Then he threw nine innings worth of pitches in six innings, forcing Johnson to use a pinch hitter. The pitcher's primary job is to make sure the other team scores fewer runs than than his. Except in the odd situation like Z'mann's 8-inning complete game loss last year, the loss belongs to the pitcher who gave up the runs.

  50. John C. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:54 PM

    peric said …Right now Atlanta is taking it to the Nats … as they have been doing the entire offseason right into today. Just like the BJ Upton signing … Atlanta has caused the Nats to stagger back …Its on Rizzo and Johnson to battle back.Atlanta took it to the Nats in the offseason? We'll see – the season isn't even 10% complete yet, for goodness' sake. The Upton signing? So far Denard Span has been a better player than Upton (whose 59 OPS+ is at Danny Espinosa levels) both offensively and defensively, for less money in the short term and long term. If that's "taking it to the Nats," sign me up for more. The Braves are riding high because Evan Gattis, Chris Johnson and Paul Maholm are playing at Cooperstown levels. History suggests that will not be sustained. The Braves will still be good, of course (Heyward and B.J. Upton are likely to get better). It's a long season, and the Nats have five and half months and 147 games to run them down.

  51. John C. - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Theophilus, if your contention is that Strasburg should have gotten his teammates to hit and field better goshdarnit – well, we will have to agree to disagree. By any objective measure over things that Strasburg can control, he has been somewhere between good and very good. He hasn't been breathtakingly great (except against the Marlins, which hardly counts) – but I think "breathtakingly great every time out" is a silly standard to hold any athlete to. YMMV.

  52. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. NatsLady - Apr 19, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Harvey's heat map. He gets a lot of K's on fastballs high in the zone. I think Harper can hit those.Harvey High Heathttp://www.baseballanalytics.org/baseball-analytics-blog/2013/4/13/matt-harveys-high-heat.html

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NL EAST STANDINGS

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ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
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SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
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