According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg may get his first big league start against the Pittsburgh Pirates sometime between June eighth and tenth.

Strasburg’s astonishing numbers in the minors have been plastered all over ESPN for the past week, and the constant debate is whether or not he will prove a worthwhile investment for the Nationals, or fade into obscurity.

If the rumors are indeed true and Strasburg faces the Pirates in his major league debut, he may be able to prove to skeptics just how good he is for the time being.

For Strasburg, this game would not necessarily silence all of his critics, but it would be a stepping stone for him and an opportunity to play with the big boys. 

Strasburg, who has been making quick work of his triple A opponents, would be facing a major league team that, in recent years, isn’t a far cry from a minor league team themselves.

Although Pittsburgh’s record doesn’t have them in dead last, their hitting statistics are, to say the least, not very good.

They rank second to last in the NL in batting average, RBI, and home runs (the only team worse being the Astros). Pittsburgh can also add the coveted third to last spot in the NL total hits to their 2010 resume so far.

The numbers here don’t lie: Pittsburgh is a mediocre team and a guy like Strasburg should be able to make short work of them as long as everything goes well.

He is not facing a team like the Rays, Yankees, or Phillies, with prolific hitters up and down the board, the utmost fear struck into his young heart.

Come June 8-10, Strasburg may be facing a lineup that currently has only one person hitting over .300, Andrew McCutchen.

Strasburg has struck out a total of 54 batters and has only allowed 22 hits in his total time within the minor leagues.

A start against a team like Pittsburgh may be the confidence booster a kid like Strasburg needs to launch his career into the stratosphere.

Of course, it will take time to really assess what kind of pitcher Strasburg will be throughout his major league career, and it is way to early to crown him anything, although some would like to.

But by the numbers Strasburg is looking absolutely dominant, posting an ERA of 0.39 with the Nationals’ triple A affiliate.

It is hard to say how Strasburg will pan out in the majors, but we must take into consideration the fact that he isn’t facing scrubs down there in triple A, and some, if not most the guys that he faced have major league experience.

Predicting the future is difficult, but if I were the Pirates, I would bring my “A” game as soon as it is confirmed that Strasburg is making his first career start against me.

The bottom line here: there is a lot of pressure on this young man, and all eyes will be on him when he steps on to the mound for the first time in a major league uniform.

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