Stephen Strasburg will face a fully loaded Miami Marlins lineup tonight, squaring off against Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton. Manager Davey Johnson used the occasion to prove he’s not backing down from any team in the National League East.
After taking a question about the effect Strasburg could have this season, Johnson said he would take the Nationals’ starting rotation over team in the league, and that Stephen Strasbrug, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann compare to the Phillies’ vaunted trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
“I mean, he has the chance to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” Johnson said of Strasburg. “With the addition of Gio, [Edwin] Jackson, Zim has proven he’s up there. He’s going to be part of one of the best staffs in our division. I’d take my staff, all five guys or six guys, over any staff in the league.”
“Even the Philles?” Johnson was asked.
Given the Nationals’ youth and potential, Johnson replied, sure.
“Their top three versus our top three, stuff-wise, we match up as good,” Johnson said.
Johnson acknowledged that Halladay, Lee and Hamels deserve the nod for what they have accomplished, their Cy Young awards and their postseason success. But, he said, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmermann are “capable of getting there, too, if they do the things they’re capable of doing.”
One thing we know for certain: The Nationals’ top three is much younger and much cheaper. The Nationals’ top three has an average age of 24,7, while the Phillies’ top three average 31.7. Strasburg, Zimmermann and Gonzalez will make a total of $8.55 million this year, while Halladay, Lee and Hamels will pocket $56.5 million.
Which trio would you rather this year? And which would you rather have for the next three years?