WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – With 161 games still to play, the Washington Nationals have already written one game into the ‘win column’ and another page in the Stephen Strasburg mystery novel, leaving everyone to wonder when the training wheels will finally come off.

According to Yahoo! Sports lead baseball writer Jeff Passan, Harper and Strasburg could be the National League’s answer to Cabrera and Verlander, if Washington ever chooses (to put it nicely) to stop ‘[beating around the bush] with Strasburg.’

Something about Opening Day made the dual phenom efforts of Harper (2-for-4, 2 HRs) and Strasburg (7 IP, 3 H, 3 K, on 80 pitches) seem that much more phenomenal. Maybe it was the fact that, at least through the first seven innings on the scoreboard, they single-handedly beat the Marlins, setting free the hopes and dreams fans have long-kept locked away since the two were drafted.

“Are you glossing over the Strasburg getting yanked after 7 innings and 80 pitches intentionally?” Passan asked 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny Tuesday. “Because when you’re talking about big storylines, that’s what I took out of yesterday’s game.”

Opening Day also brought renewed hope in the endless possibilities for Strasburg, who – in phase three of his seemingly endless Tommy John rehab process – was by all accounts supposed to be unchained in 2013. And yet he was pulled after seven innings of tireless, dominant pitching the first game of the season.

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“I’m just wondering when they’re going to stop coming up with excuses, like on why they’re not letting Stephen Strasburg go,” Passan said. “It’s just a weird pattern to start off the year that way, the way that they ended last year, when this was supposed to be the year of unleashing Strasburg. Unleashing is not 80 pitches over 7 innings, the second fewest of all pitchers on Opening Day, one pitch more than Edinson Volquez who gave up 6 runs in 3 innings.”

Passan believes left unrestrained, Stras is a shoe-in for the NL Cy Young, and Harper could make strides large enough to be a dark horse NL MVP candidate.

“When you have those two surrounded by what the Nats surround them with, it’s a scary, scary proposition for the rest of the National League,” Passan continued. “I think that the Nationals insistence that they know exactly what they’re doing, and what they’re doing is right, is frankly not true.”

Passan cited an anonymous pitcher that texted him after seeing no. 37 was pulled from the game.

Below is how he explained their text convo unfolded:

Player: That’s a typo right?

Passan: No, that’s no typo.

Player: You’re telling me he threw seven shutout innings and retired nineteen straight guys, and they yanked him after 80 pitches??

Passan: That would be correct.

Player: That would piss me off more than anything I can think of.

Passan firmly believes if the Nats want to keep Strasburg happy, while getting the best out of him, it’s time to take the training wheels off and see what his arm is capable of – unrestricted.

“I wonder if just at this point how pissed off Stephen Strasburg really is,” Passan concluded.

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