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Kershaw vs. Strasburg: Who You Got?

We would be remiss here at the MLB Fan Cave if we neglected to extend a hearty congratulations to Stephen Strasburg on his triumphant return to the mound on Tuesday evening. He looked as good as the Nationals and their fans could have hoped on a rainy evening in our nation's capital, pitching five shutout innings, giving up just two hits, and flirting with triple digits on several occasions.

This just in: Stephen Strasburg is really good. It had been almost a year to the day since he had Tommy John surgery, and he pitched as though not a day had passed. His fastball exploded like a cannon from his hand, routinely sitting in the high 90's and even touching 99 mph a few times. He admittedly had trouble controlling some of his breaking pitches, but the slider looked good. He also threw a change-up that registered at 92 mph on the radar gun. That's simply not fair.

In the wake of his comeback, the MLB Fan Cave Twitter account posted an interesting debate topic: if you were a GM, who would you rather have at the top of your rotation - Strasburg, or another talented 23-year old starter, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw?

We love debating topics like this one at the MLB Fan Cave, and as with many of our debates, there is really no clear-cut answer. Both are young, dominant, and have the kind of stuff that could eventually land them in Cooperstown. But whom would you rather have?

Let's look at the numbers. Obviously, there are a greater amount of statistics available for Kershaw, who is currently in his fourth full season in the bigs. Through his first 112 starts, Kershaw has a 43-28 record with a stellar ERA of 2.95. Those numbers are indicative of the kind of pitcher this guy is. He has yet to post a losing record (with a 17-5 record in 2011, it's not going to happen this season), and is having the best season of his brief career this year as he leads the NL in both innings pitched and strikeouts. He has two things going for him that Strasburg does not, however. He has a very easy, repeatable delivery that reduces the risk of significant injury, and he's a lefty. Teams covet both of those things.

Everything I've mentioned about Kershaw is great, but when you watch a guy like Strasburg pitch, it doesn't take long to realize you're looking at a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent. It's not just the ability to throw in the high 90's consistently. It's not the ungodly breaking stuff that he can snap off. It's the fact that, on most nights, he can throw those pitches wherever he wants. Now, I'm not a Major League hitter, but I think I can tell you with some certainty that 100 mph fastballs become infinitely more difficult to hit when they're going exactly where the pitcher means for them to go. In his first start back the other night, one thing was abundantly clear - try as they might, those hitters could not square up any of Strasburg's pitches. Sure, they were making contact, but it was never good contact, and more often than not it seemed they were just throwing the bat out there and hoping for the best. It's impossible to game plan for a guy who throws the way he does.

Unfortunately, health may be the one thing that can derail this guy. In recent years, we've seen a slew of guys return from Tommy John surgery better than they were before the procedure. If Tuesday night's start was any indication, it appears we will soon be adding Stephen Strasburg's name to that list. But, even though it seems the health of his elbow has improved, his violent delivery certainly has not. So, while many, including me, hope that he remains healthy from this point forward and sets every record in the book, there will always be a fear in the back of my mind that one day his mechanics will lead to another catastrophic injury.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I will take Kershaw. But, as I said earlier, there is no wrong answer, and I'd love to have both. Who knows? In 20 years, we might be talking about how we all lived to see the two greatest pitchers in history play out their careers in the same generation.

Kershaw or Strasburg - who are you taking? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know.

We would be remiss here at the MLB Fan Cave if we neglected to extend a hearty congratulations to Stephen Strasburg on his triumphant return to the mound on Tuesday evening. He looked as good as the Nationals and their fans could have hoped on a rainy evening in our nation's capital, pitching five shutout innings, giving up just two hits, and flirting with triple digits on several occasions.

This just in: Stephen Strasburg is really good. It had been almost a year to the day since he had Tommy John surgery, and he pitched as though not a day had passed. His fastball exploded like a cannon from his hand, routinely sitting in the high 90's and even touching 99 mph a few times. He admittedly had trouble controlling some of his breaking pitches, but the slider looked good. He also threw a change-up that registered at 92 mph on the radar gun. That's simply not fair.

In the wake of his comeback, the MLB Fan Cave Twitter account posted an interesting debate topic: if you were a GM, who would you rather have at the top of your rotation - Strasburg, or another talented 23-year old starter, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw?

We love debating topics like this one at the MLB Fan Cave, and as with many of our debates, there is really no clear-cut answer. Both are young, dominant, and have the kind of stuff that could eventually land them in Cooperstown. But whom would you rather have?

Let's look at the numbers. Obviously, there are a greater amount of statistics available for Kershaw, who is currently in his fourth full season in the bigs. Through his first 112 starts, Kershaw has a 43-28 record with a stellar ERA of 2.95. Those numbers are indicative of the kind of pitcher this guy is. He has yet to post a losing record (with a 17-5 record in 2011, it's not going to happen this season), and is having the best season of his brief career this year as he leads the NL in both innings pitched and strikeouts. He has two things going for him that Strasburg does not, however. He has a very easy, repeatable delivery that reduces the risk of significant injury, and he's a lefty. Teams covet both of those things.

Everything I've mentioned about Kershaw is great, but when you watch a guy like Strasburg pitch, it doesn't take long to realize you're looking at a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent. It's not just the ability to throw in the high 90's consistently. It's not the ungodly breaking stuff that he can snap off. It's the fact that, on most nights, he can throw those pitches wherever he wants. Now, I'm not a Major League hitter, but I think I can tell you with some certainty that 100 mph fastballs become infinitely more difficult to hit when they're going exactly where the pitcher means for them to go. In his first start back the other night, one thing was abundantly clear - try as they might, those hitters could not square up any of Strasburg's pitches. Sure, they were making contact, but it was never good contact, and more often than not it seemed they were just throwing the bat out there and hoping for the best. It's impossible to game plan for a guy who throws the way he does.

Unfortunately, health may be the one thing that can derail this guy. In recent years, we've seen a slew of guys return from Tommy John surgery better than they were before the procedure. If Tuesday night's start was any indication, it appears we will soon be adding Stephen Strasburg's name to that list. But, even though it seems the health of his elbow has improved, his violent delivery certainly has not. So, while many, including me, hope that he remains healthy from this point forward and sets every record in the book, there will always be a fear in the back of my mind that one day his mechanics will lead to another catastrophic injury.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I will take Kershaw. But, as I said earlier, there is no wrong answer, and I'd love to have both. Who knows? In 20 years, we might be talking about how we all lived to see the two greatest pitchers in history play out their careers in the same generation.

Kershaw or Strasburg - who are you taking? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know.