Monday, February 20, 2012

Rizzo: No tweaks to Strasburg's schedule

US Presswire file photo
Stephen Strasburg is expected to pitch about 160 innings this season.
VIERA, Fla. -- If there were still any lingering questions about the Nationals' plan for Stephen Strasburg in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, general manager Mike Rizzo put those to rest this morning.

Rizzo made it clear the club will not deviate from its original plan to have Strasburg open the season on schedule, pitch every fifth day and then be shut down once he reaches his limit of roughly 160 innings.

"There's not going to be a whole lot of tinkering going on," Rizzo said. "We're going to run him out there until his innings are done, and then stop him from pitching."

That would fall in line with the schedule the Nationals used last year on Jordan Zimmermann, who was also coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery. The right-hander wound up making 26 starts and totaling 161 1/3 innings before getting shut down following his final outing on Aug. 26.

Some had suggested the Nationals, who hope to be in a pennant race come September, might find a creative way to prolong Strasburg's season, either by having him open the year late or have starts skipped along the way.

Rizzo, though, has no intention of making that kind of dramatic alteration to the young ace's schedule.

"He's a young pitcher that's still learning how to pitch in the big leagues," the GM said. "I think it's unfair for him to get him ramped up in spring training, start the season on a regular rotation, then shut him down or skip him. All of those guys, we're going to make them comfortable, regular rotation, regular reps and just take it from there. I think we're deep enough that we can do that."

Indeed, one of the primary reasons the Nationals stocked themselves with so many extra starting pitchers this winter was to ensure they would have enough healthy arms to compensate for Strasburg's innings limit, not to mention the typical progression for fellow young rotation mates like Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson.

"They're all young enough that I think we have to err on that side," Rizzo said. "I don't want to reinvent the wheel. We're going to be as careful as we can with everybody. We're not going to discuss six-man rotations, or not starting him until a month later, just to get him through a season."

Strasburg may not be a fan of the program, but he said Sunday he would adhere to whatever plan the club has in place for him.

"I don't want to go out there and say, 'Oh, I know they're going to take me out in this inning because I've thrown this many innings this year,'" he said. "I'm going to go out until they take the ball out of my hands."


ehay2k said...

LOL Mark, you are posting at a clip that makes is seem as if NatsInsider readers were still paying for the trip! Thanks for the continued excellence.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Rizzo saying all the right things about the long term with Stras. And it makes sense to just let the guy pitch every 5th day and have him win as many games as they can with Stras to try to get into playoff contention anyway.


Feel Wood said...

I still predict that Strasburg will make his first start in game #4 at the Mets so he will be in line to pitch the Saturday afternoon Fox Game of the Week Strasburg bobblehead day vs the Reds.

NatsLady said...

LOL, Rizzo mentioned starting Stras a month late (my idea...). So it wasn't weird, just not gonna happen. I'm ok with that.

gonatsgo said...

A day off and multiple posts from spring training - and the sun is shining. Doesn't take much to make me happy!! Seriously - I just can't get enough news from Viera - keep it coming!

Section 222 said...

Yes! See, I predicted that the Nats wouldn't go for my 5 inning per start idea. :-)

Without Peacock and Milone, I wonder who best candidates are to take Strasburg's place in the rotation in September, or is that when Gorzo finally gets his shot? Or could it be that the Nats have actually become a team that at the trade deadline is looking to acquire a valuable player for a playoff run? Wouldn't that be something?

Gonat said...

MicheleS said...
Jayson Stark just tweeted that Hudson (braves) is out until May for his back. Was this known that he would miss the start of the season?

February 20, 2012 10:56 AM

Thanks for the news although as schedules go, doubt the Nats will miss him.

While the scheduling gods seem to put together an easier April than we have seen before, the Nats don't face the Braves until May 25th weekend.

greg said...

couple of thoughts.

one thing i *do* agree with jayb on is that we're hurting on the bench (and i've said it before). this and the 3rd starting OF are, by far, the biggest weak spots on the team. we can get by with mediocre leadoff hitting if we don't compound it with other holes.

i agree w/whoever it was that posted in the last thread that it's painful to see ibanez sign for $1m or so. now, i think he really wants to be on the yankees, so i don't know that he'd have signed here for that. but that's the kind of bat i think davey is looking for. and a guy who can give you a few games in the field. i do think the yanks will likely give him more ABs than he'd be guaranteed here (and a better shot at the playoffs), so he may not have come here. but that's the kind of guy we need.

as far as cameron and WAR, i may have misunderstood jayb, but i didn't presume he was saying losing cameron would cost 5 games (using WAR), but that having a poor bench and 3rd OF for the first two months could cost us that.

now, i don't know if i completely agree with that. i don't think any starter + a couple of bench guys can generate a +5 WAR over the guys we have now (weak as it may be) in just 1-2 months. but it's a legitimate concern that we could be better there.

unfortunately i still think that a lot of the options people bandied about are guys who just weren't comfortable with looking at what their playing time would be come some point in may or june when most of us expect harper will be up. carlos beltran wasn't going to sign here to be a 4th OF or in a 4 man rotation for 3 spots this year.

MicheleS said...

Gonat.. looked at the April Schedule and started to get antsy about potential wins, then quickly got off of that so I didn't jinx myself!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

September is a long ways away. Far too early to worry about.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Some players will be way better than almost anyone expected.

Some players will get hurt.

Some otherwise dubious team will start like a house on fire, only to crap out sometime this summer.

Some team expected to compete will get off to a slow start, make up a ton of ground in July and August, and threaten the leaders in September. They may or may not actually make the playoffs.

The umpiring will generate howls of protest and derision in at least 30 parks.

natsfan1a said...


To add to sec3's predictions: sometimes the Nats will win; sometimes the Nats will lose; sometimes it will rain; think about that for a while...

ehay2k said...

LOL Mark, you are posting at a clip that makes is seem as if NatsInsider readers were still paying for the trip! Thanks for the continued excellence.
February 20, 2012 12:04 PM

gonatsgo said...

natsfan1a - and it might also be a good day to watch Bull Durham for the 1000th time? Some of the best movie quotes ever along with Sandlot.

Section 222 said...

The great thing about Mark posting so much -- Mark posting so much. What a pleasure to have new news and food for thought. The not so great thing -- no time to respond to previous posts unless you spend your whole day tracking the blog, which I'm really trying not to do (it's hard though). But I just wanted to make once comment about the most recent post on the effect of Cameron's retirement.

In the end, what the Nationals will probably lose most from Cameron's retirement is his veteran clubhouse presence

You could have said the same thing about Matt Stairs, which is why Cameron's retirement is virtually meaningless to this team's prospects in 2012.

JaneB said...

Sorry for Tim Hudson that he's hurt; I really enjoy his pitching. Except when it's against us.

Anonymous said...

Manny signs with the A's.

How long until JayB tells us all that this was another major miss by Rizzo?

Anonymous said...

Although Johnson wanted a veteran bench (making Cameron like DeRosa his idea) he also said what he needs is already in the system. I don't think he was blowing smoke JayB

Again, as Mark mentioned there's a name to remember: Lombardozzi, trained at every level of the system to lead off and get on base. Has a minor league gold glove. I suspect JayB in spite of all your self-touted baseball acumen you don't follow the minor leagues or the system all that well. Preferring instead, to bemoan the lack of a decent product at the major league level, always pointing a finger of blame at the Lerner's as tightwads. Its getting tiresome ... REALLY tiresome.

The Nats have people who I believe CAN lead-off and be very effective. They have a #2 guy in DeRosa who could be very effective in that role? Werth is also capable. As for CF well its either Ankiel or Werth and my money is on Werth right now.

Why? Because the only weakness the Nats have left is the offense. Statistically the team had a -40.1 bRAA. That's MISERABLE and it has nothing to do with who is playing CF or not. Nor, honestly, lead-off? The Brewer's platooned Morgan in that role did you see their offense? So, most of what you say makes little sense from a statistically perspective.

And that leads us to Harper. At ever level in professional and amateur ball ... so far, the guy has thrived offensively. His is a left-handed impact bat-to-be in a park that favors left-handed doubles hitters. Can Harper improve the dismal offense and at least bring it up to average (0.0 bRAA). Maybe. With consistent hitting from Morse and Zimmerman plus Ramos ... and hopefully Espinosa it may be even better.

AND guess what? With that pitching staff and defense? That's enough to make the playoffs and perhaps, with luck win the division even platooning in CF the way Milwaukee did last year.

So stop. Look at other teams, look at the minor leagues and see what's there for once.

Eric said...

I feel that we should all just be hopeful that Stras makes it through 160 innings healthy.

Anonymous said...

And JayB, my Gawd you bemoan Harper on twitter like he's the cheap, greedy Lerners? Did someone step on your dog or something?

I follow the guy on twitter and most of what I see from he and his sister are tidbits about his really cute new dog Swag. Swag seems like a pretty keen dog. That and his sister trying to convince Bryce to buy his mom a car. I follow his brother too. The guy has taken up biking to build up his legs to pitch in the Nats minor league system this year. He got himself a pretty nice Trek carbon-fiber road bike. I bike about 30-40 miles a day myself and I can vouch for what it does for your legs. Especially carrying heavy loads of books like I do.

So, stop for Pete's sake.

SCNatsFan said...

Eric I agree. It will be enough to go into next ST like we do now with Zim, assuming that his arm is healthy and he is ready to be the pitcher we hope he will be.

NatsBrat said...

Rizzo is at his best when he is not thinking 'outside the box'; fortunately, we have Davey who has countered that biased format all his career.

Rizzo may not be thinking about tweaking SS's pitching regimen, but I'll bet Davey is!

Anonymous said...

Rizzo may not be thinking about tweaking SS's pitching regimen, but I'll bet Davey is!

Which again, makes no sense. Doesn't anyone actually follow this team? Or what? Johnson overruled the plan McCatty and Riggleman (the guy who burned out Kerry Wood's arm) attempting to do just that. Tweak the schedule so that Zimmermann who statistically was last year's ace by a wide margin ... because when they did he had miserable outings.

That is Davey talking as much as Rizzo on that you can bet real money ... sheesh!!!

Pete's Sake said...

Carbon-fiber is not the way to go. Especially for books or pitchers. I have two words for you. Titanium.

Anonymous said...

I have two words for you too: internal combustion.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait until pitchers and catchers report so we can end these obnoxious non-baseball conversations...

What's that you say? They did already? Oh.

Can't wait until position players report so we can end these obnoxious non-baseball conversations.

Cwj said...

I'm hopeful for 160 IP and 190 SO from Stras this year with an ERA of 2.90.
Next year he'll be let loose for 200 IP and 240 SO. ERA of 2.50.

Zimmermann, however, should be let loose this year and post an ERA under 3.00 with 190+ IP.

Gonzalez and Jackson will hold down the fort with 200+ IP and solid low-mid 3 ERA's, perhaps better.

What a rotation! Stras-Zimm-Gio-Jax... = Outstanding!
Go Nats!!!!

Anonymous said...

Carbon fiber training bike to promote leg strength? Why not use marshmallow dumbbells?

Could have save a few thousand bucks and had better results by buying a Huffy!

natsfan1a said...

Just stumbled across a nice piece on Da Meat Hook. So great that he's healthy and happy. If not on the field, perhaps he'll have a future as a coach or commentator.

MicheleS said...

According to Mark's twitter feed, CMW had some shoulder soreness and sprained a finger about a month ago...

Odds CMW lands on the DL to start the season???

Positively Half St. said...

I still don't understand why Manny Ramirez didn't simply serve his 50-game suspension before retiring. He could have been ready to play for the A's right out of the gate. But what the heck- the guy never was much for making sense.

As for obtaining someone at the trade deadline to make a run for the playoffs, I can only hope it works better than it did the only other time the team did that. Remember that the Nats traded for Preston Wilson in 2005. He only cost the team Zach Day (and maybe someone else?), but that truly was a waste of time. That slide to the basement was not remotely slowed by that transaction.


Anonymous said...

I think D'Mitri finds a place on a club at some point this season. There's not much risk to having him on a minor league deal and all the guy has ever done when healthy is hit and now in great shape for the first time since ever, he might be a useful role player or injury fill-in. Maybe Brewers, Twins, Mariners . . . We'll see.


Positively Half St. said...


I sure hope that CMW does not end up on the DL because he is actually injured. If the team wants to put him on the DL to extend his season later after Strasburg is done, then I would be content with that little bit of gamesmanship.

I bet you he does, whichever is the case.


NatsBrat said...

@ Anon. 2:12

160 innings is an arbitrary number, sport.

Most orthopedic experts in the field suggest that innings pitched is a secondary stat to other significant variables.

Doesn't anyone actually follow the science physiology of pitching?

Wood's major problems were with delivery, and Riggleman probably had as much understanding of that as Rizzo currently has.

MicheleS said...

+1/2 St..

I think this is just the beginning of the gamesmanship...One of them ends up on the DL or Lannen ends up in AAA

natscan reduxit said...

... I won't quibble with the Nats' plan to set him down at 160 innings, even if that means Strazz doesn't pitch in September. But I hope that wouldn't mean the team would stop competing and striving for the post-season. And if they were to be fortunate enough to make the play-offs, would we not see Strasburg take the mound then? Or are the team's scheduling processes so rigid that even having a chance of winning it all comes second??

Go Nats!!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Strasburg gets shut down. Period. Why is that so hard to understand? 160 innings and he's done.

Sunderland said...

What NatsJack said. Strasburg has never thrown more than 123 innings in one baseball season.

I could also see Zimmermann being limited to a 20% increase, with the Nats aiming to perhaps keep him under 200 innings. This probably won't get publicly discussed, but it will certainly be in the minds of the braintrust as August dog days tick by.

greg said...

yeah, i really don't see them doing anything they see as a risk to strasburg's future health for 2013 and beyond just to take a shot this year.

remember, this is supposed to be the opening of the window, not the last gasp as the window closes.

i see absolutely no chance they the try to get too creative with strasburg just to take a shot.

Anonymous said...

And, uh, Ramos, my man, just a tip: With two strikes, watch for that DOWN AND AWAY SLIDER you wave at at least once or twice a game. MAN that makes me mad.

The Dude Abides said...

So you're saying Ramos strikes out once or twice a game? Since he played in 113 games and only struck out 76 times, you must be thinking of someone else or maybe you exagerate like most Oriole fans.

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