It is pretty obvious the Nationals want to make a statement right out of the blocks to begin the mythical second half of the season by going to their best pitcher the last month and ten days, Stephen Strasburg (3-2, 2.32) tonight against Florida's Ricky Nolasco (9-6, 4.55).
How long have Nats fans waited to have an answer for Josh Johnson or Nolasco, who they seem to face in every Nats vs. Marlins series? Seems like forever. And imagine very soon a second matchup with Jordan Zimmermann returning against Johnson.
Zimmermann is excited for that chance someday to pitch in the same rotation as Strasburg.
"I think the future looks bright," Zimmermann said. "Hopefully, I can get up here sometime and pitch with him. He is an outstanding pitcher. He has been doing a great job so far this year. I am just excited to get up here."
This would be big for the Nats to finally have a 1-2 punch to answer some of the best pitching tandems in the National League instead of just trying to get by, which is what 2009 felt like.
And to take the argument even further, Strasburg will start in the Cincinnati Reds series on Wednesday. Instead of having Strasburg go against say the Marlins and the Brewers, the Nats moved him up to tonight's start so he would get one of the four starts in Cincy against one of the hottest first half teams, the Reds, in the National League.
Former Marlin Livan Hernandez has been very impressed with new teammate Strasburg and how he studies the game. Livan says Stephen comes up to him for advice on in-game situations.
"He is a very smart kid," Hernandez said. "He knows what he is doing. All the time he asks me during the game, 'what do you think of the game today?'. He gives me good points.
"He knows what he was doing wrong. That is very good when he listens to me for advice. (Strasburg) now knows what to do to stop (the mistakes). That impressed me a lot. That kid is unbelievable. He is going to be really good."
Livan Hernandez will oppose Johnson in game two Saturday night.