In 2009 the Nats drafted generational talent Stephen Strasburg.
In 2010 the Nats drafted generational talent Bryce Harper.
The forward thinking fan thought that by 2013 or maybe even 2012 these guys would be in the Cy Young and MVP discussion every season and would be leading the Nats to the promised land of titles both divisional and championship. But fate is cruel and player health is fleeting and that future never materialized.
In 2010 Strasburg flashed that amazing talent putting up a crazy numbers in ~40% of a season of work. 7.4 H/9. 0.7 HR/9. K-BB number of 9.9* Since 2010 only two other guys have hit that K-BB mark for a full season, Kershaw and Sale, but they didn't do that until 2015 when they were 27 and 26 year old veteran arms respectively. Stras did that as a 21 year old rookie. But instead of getting a chance to improve on those he would get injured and have to get Tommy John, setting him back a year. His comeback in 2012 was good, and he's been very good since but he hasn't been able to get back to dominance. He's been just slightly more hittable, slightly more prone to the long ball. Perhaps though, that has been the fault of injuries. A tweak of the back/should midseason in 2013, a stiff neck and an oblique injury in 2015. Maybe they set Strasburg back just a bit, which may not seem that much, but just a bit is the difference between Kershaw level and the next step down where Strasburg has been.
In 2012 Bryce would come up and put up some very impressive numbers for a 19 year old including smacking 22 home runs in an abbreviated season. Things looked bright but in 2013 things would go off track. He'd put up a line of .360 / .444 / .744 before crashing into a wall and hurting his hip and ribcage. He'd crash into the wall again on May 13th and hurt his knee. He'd only hit 11 home runs after the first crash (he had 9 at the time) hitting .251 / .349 / .417 for the rest of the season. In 2014 he was hitting .289 / .352 / .422 but then tore up his thumb sliding headfirst into third. He'd hit a decent but nothing more .268 / .342 / .424 for the remainder of that year. In 2015 he finally put up a full healthy year and, well, you know the rest.
You could argue that right now we have a good chance to have a healthy Bryce and a healthy Strasburg together at the same time in May for the first time ever**. If we go by Stras was healthy coming back on August 8th this is what these two guys have done since then in about 40% of a season.
Bryce : .324 / .459 / .671 20 homers 50 RBI 55 R
Strasburg : 9-2 1.74 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Push that out into an entire season and you get Strasburg with a 25-5 record. You get Bryce hitting 51 homers, driving in 127 runs and scoring 139 times.
The Nats have had some good performances, but those two doing that at the same time? Wow. Six years ago we thought it might happen 4 times or more if they kept Strasburg. Now we are hoping for one. I'll take it though.
*This is a better tracker of domination than K/BB rate as that can give too much credit to hittable guys with fantastic control. It's not a bad stat - I usually start with it because it's easily available and we're smart enough to pick off the Kevin Sloweys of the world, but K-BB is better. Shows unhittableness and control.
**So in review : In 2012 you might say that but Bryce was raw rookie and Stras was in a recovery season. In 2013 they were both healthy that first month then Bryce would go down at the end of April and Stras would get injured in June and would both fight injuries rest of year. In 2014 repeat that story again for Bryce plus you could probably say 1 HR to start year meant he was still recovering from off-season surgery. (Also Stras's super slow start suggested less than perfect health as well - though I have no confirmation of that). Last year Strasburg fought off ankle issues coming in from Spring Training for the first part of the season and arguably wasn't right until August.