There’s no two ways about it: Stephen Strasburg’s performance Tuesday night was one for the ages.

The 21-year-old phenom had Pirates’ bats catching more air than a lateen sail in his debut, and aside from a brief blip in the form of a two-run homer by Delwyn Young, his opponents looked simply baffled all evening.

His line of 14 strikeouts and zero walks in just seven innings is a feat achieved by just five others. Ever.

At least two of those five(Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens) and likely a third (Mike Mussina) will be in Cooperstown in a few short years.

But one start or even one season does not a Cy Young winner make.

Certainly Mark Prior, among others, can tell you that. There’s no reason to think Strasburg will catch the injury bug as badly as Prior did, but then again, you never know.

Like an airplane just escaping the reaches of the tarmac, the direction of Strasburg’s career is unknown to this point.

Likewise, it’s a little too early to dub the Washington Nationals an instant World Series contender. Especially when the team in question hasn’t sniffed the postseason, even the wild card race, in its five previous seasons in D.C. and is mired in an 8-16 slump.

While Strasburg joins a bevy of promising youngsters with the Nationals, including third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, shortstop Ian Desmond and reliever Drew Storen, there remain some obvious holes in the present club, starting with Strasburg’s rotation mates.

Perhaps Zimmerman put it best when he said, “(Strasburg) gives you a good chance to win every fifth day.”

Strasburg will certainly bolster the Nationals’ pitching contingent, but the staff still needs some more aid at the moment.

The other four days the team’s chances of winning are so-so. Joining Strasburg in the rotation are: Livan Hernandez, J.D. Martin, John Lannan, and Luis Atilano.

Hernandez, you could argue, has been one of the better front of the rotation starters in the MLB this season. But the other three have reached the seventh inning just three times in 20 starts, putting undue stress on already shaky bullpen.

Closer Matt Capps remains the major league leader in saves, but that is mostly because of a hot start to the season in which he recorded saves in 10 of the Nats’ first 22 games. Since then he has tallied just nine in the team’s last 37 games, and all four of his blown saves this season have been in his last eight appearances.

The offense has been significantly better, but it’s tough to say how much longer it will stay intact. Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham have combined for 44 home runs so far this season and give the Nats one of the strongest middles-of-the-order in MLB. 

But Dunn and Willingham are both well into their 30s, and if you throw in Ivan Rodriguez and Cristian Guzman, four of the Nats top five hitters are older than 30.

That would be OK if the Nationals were the Yankees and Strasburg was the final piece to the World Series puzzle.

But they’re not, and he’s not.

At 28-31 the Nats are tied for last in the NL East and are still in search of the franchise’s first winning season. Strasburg’s debut is certainly a giant lunge in the right direction for the club, and Bryce Harper’s could be next.

But right now, the fact remains that the Nationals will need at least 60 more wins to put themselves in the playoff picture, and Strasburg only has about 20 starts remaining this season.

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