It is time to bring Strasburg to DC

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Of all the surprises through the first month-and-a-half of the major league season, nothing may be more shocking than the fact that the Washington Nationals are .500 heading into this weekend's slate of interleague play.

The Nationals, who even spent some time in first place in the National League East, have hit a rough patch, though. They have dropped six of seven and have fallen into fourth place in the division, just a game in front of the last- place New York Mets and five back of the first place Philadelphia Phillies, who are getting healthy.

However, the Nationals do have another trick up their sleeve. And that weapon comes in the form of perhaps the best pitching prospect ever in right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg is ready. Truth be told, he was probably ready at the end of spring training. The Nats, though, wanted to get him some seasoning in the minors, not to mention an extra year under their control. I have no problem with that, but now their season could be slipping away.

Stop messing around and bring Strasburg up now.

Most people are pointing to June 4 against the Cincinnati Reds as the probable date of his MLB debut, meaning Strasburg would likely make two more starts for Triple-A Syracuse.

Why wait, though? Let him make his next start on Monday in San Francisco, where the Nats start a 10-game road trip that, as crazy as it sounds, really could make or break their season.

Stephen Strasburg went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts for Double-A Harrisburg.
What is the point of having Strasburg go into that first start after the trek, when Washington could be 10 games out of first place? Have him get a few starts in on the road - one of which would be in his hometown of San Diego - before he returns home for that June 4 outing against the Cincinnati Reds.

Most teams have to wait until June to bring up a player like Strasburg because they don't want his arbitration clock starting any sooner than it has to. Strasburg, though, is a different case. He already has a major league contract.

Strasburg is signed for $3 million in 2012, which in all likelihood will be his third year in the big leagues. That means that Strasburg's 2013 salary is going to be at least $3 million, whether he's arbitration-eligible or not.

According to baseball's most recent collective bargaining agreement, a year of service time is defined as 172 days. However, of the players that fall short of this mark, the top 17-percent with at least two years of service time are also granted arbitration eligibility. These players are called "Super 2s". The exact amount of service time varies from year-to- year, but has been as low as 128 days and as high as 140 days, although the number is usually between 130-135.

So, say Strasburg gets called up on Monday and does in fact become a Super Two and has to go to arbitration for the first time in 2013. Chances are he is not going to get more than $4.5 million. In fact, the figure is likely to be lower, based on previous pitchers who were in similar situations like Cole Hamels, who netted $4.35 million in his first year of arbitration.

If the Nats don't think he is ready, that is one thing, but there is no financial reason to keep him out of the majors at this point. And it is hard to argue that he is not ready at this point.

After going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts for Double-A Harrisburg, Strasburg has been even better at Triple-A, posting a 3-0 mark without allowing a run in 18 1/3 innings.

It is clear. Strasburg is ready. Get him up now, before it is to late for him to make a difference.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at
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