Washington Nationals: What We Learned on Opening Day

By John Engel
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Opening day brings endless cliches about the smell of grass, the sunshine, and the joy on the face of a red-faced child; but more importantly, it brings answers. No team in the National League had more questions to answer with their Opening Day matchup than the Washington Nationals

So, what did we learn from the Nationals opening win over the already deflated Miami Marlins? Well, Stephen Strasburg is a top-five right-handed starter in professional baseball, Bryce Harper could have an MVP-caliber season and Washington D.C. may be the best place to watch a baseball game.

Even with all the over analyzation and romanticized aspects of opening day, it’s still a sacred time for baseball fans. Many fans will watch today, turn on a Saturday game in July and rejoin their team when they are hopefully entering the playoffs in September.

Granted it’s early to be talking an MVP race, but Nationals fans have to optimistic after what they’ve seen from Harper this spring and on opening day. Harper’s two solo home runs were enough to earn Strasburg his first win of the 2013 campaign.

With Harper’s jerky swing and unparalleled strength, it doesn’t look like the outfielder is going to have a career of longevity like everyone seems to believe. I truly believe Harper’s window of dominance starts from now until age 28-29, or whenever injuries begin to set in.

Harper may become one of the best hitters we’ve ever seen, and I hope the best for him, but I don’t see him having a Derek Jeter-like career.

We also found out that, yes, Strasburg is good. After missing the majority of the season in 2011 and being put on an inning limit in 2012, Strasburg is ready to to mow down the NL East. Manager Davey Johnson has said Strasburg will play without limits this season, even though he was removed from the game after seven fulling scoreless innings.

Strasburg has not pitched more than seven innings in a single start in his entire career. He has gone seven innings eight times in his career. On Monday, he did his work in with an efficient 80 pitches, and finished with three strikeouts.

Once again, the Nationals look inspired to win the NL East and make a run into the playoffs. If opening day is any indication, that’s exactly what they’ll do.

John Engel is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports, and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.

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