Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strasburg will start Opening Day

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound April 5 at Wrigley Field.
VIERA, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg hasn't appeared in an All-Star Game like Gio Gonzalez. He hasn't won a World Series like Edwin Jackson. He hasn't posted a top-10 National League ERA like Jordan Zimmermann.

But Strasburg -- in the mind of manager Davey Johnson -- is the best pitcher on the Nationals' staff. And that's why the 23-year-old hurler will be on the mound April 5 at Chicago's Wrigley Field for Opening Day.

"I like to put my best foot forward from the get-go," Johnson this morning in making the formal announcement.

Strasburg has only 17 games of big-league experience, but in that short time he's established himself as one of the game's most dominant starters, owner of a 2.54 career ERA and a ridiculous 116-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So how did Johnson make the decision to go with Strasburg over the likes of Gonzalez (a 16-game winner and All-Star with the Athletics last season), Zimmermann (who posted a 3.18 ERA in 26 starts last year) and Jackson (a member of the Cardinals' World Series-winning rotation)?

My experience and my baseball instincts," the 69-year-old manager said. "It was easy. Very easy. It had nothing to do with favoritism or anything like that. He's my Opening Day starter."

Johnson announced that Gonzalez will start the season's second game (April 7 in Chicago). He wouldn't reveal the order of the rest of his rotation yet, but as things currently stand Zimmermann would serve as the No. 3 starter, with Jackson as the No. 4 starter. If Chien-Ming Wang recovers from a hamstring injury in time, he would be the fifth starter; if not, John Lannan would take that spot.

Assuming everyone stays on schedule, Gonzalez would be in line to start the Nationals' April 12 home opener against the Reds.

Strasburg's second start of the season will come in New York, either April 10 or 11 against the Mets. His home debut would then come either April 15 against the Reds or April 16 against the Astros.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get J Zim on my opening day (Fri Apr 13th).

Section 222 said...

Boy did I get new posted on that one!

PAY TO PLAY said...

Nice photo!

Steve M. said...

NatsJack, from the other post. I only recall you mentioning Davey Johnson's wife, not any players wife or girlfriend.

sjm308 said...

What you have to love about Davey is that he is really no nonsense. He says what he thinks and gives no chance of second guessing or reading between the lines. I also have to think the players appreciate this as well. Is this really a big deal for the starters? Gio has a great 5 year deal and is new. Jackson has to understand he is not our #1. I guess JZ might have wanted the honor but he is young and probably not that upset either.

I have been on record that I thought JZ deserved it after his year but Davey stepped up and now everyone has the plan and get ready for the season.

Go Nats!!

Steady Eddie said...

No arguments here.

While you can make a case for Gio or JZim, Stras legitimately gets it. His mix of stuff and 'tude makes him the most intimidating starter the Nats (or almost any other team, for that matter) have.

Manassas Nats Fan said...

My first game Sunday the 15th I get Wang or Lannan. (which I already knew anyway),

Anonymous said...

I would be quick to pull Lannan, if he gets off to a couple of rough starts. Detwiler showed signs of strength at the end of last season, and he bodes well for the future -- much better than Lannan. It may take Wang quite a while to recover fully.

Also, if Desmond doesn't get on base with regularity, what's the team's next best option for the leadoff spot?

Finally, my family took our first ballpark tour last weekend at Nationals Park. It is well worth the money, and the tour guide said all proceeds help Children's Hospital. I didn't know that.

sjm308 said...

So I will see Gio on the 12th and would I get lucky and see SS on the 16th? Help me out here.

Feel Wood said...

So I will see Gio on the 12th and would I get lucky and see SS on the 16th? Help me out here.

The whole point of a rotation is that they pitch the games in that order - which ensures that no starter ever has to pitch on short rest, unless there's a doubleheader. So count the games from Opening Day, and yes Strasburg will pitch on the 16th. Barring a rainout somewhere along the way, of course.

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...
Also, if Desmond doesn't get on base with regularity, what's the team's next best option for the leadoff spot?
March 21, 2012 10:56 AM


In 2010 there was no real alternative to Nyjer, and in 2011 after Nyjer was traded there was no Plan B.

The Plan this year is for the September 2011 Ian Desmond to show up in leadoff in 2012.

For a playoff team, Rizzo is riding full throtle once again. It was the reason I thought Coco Crisp made a lot of sense as it is insurance "just in case" aka Plan B.

While I don't mind the team spending their money, the EJax $11 million I thought could have been used to bolster the bench and outfield.

This is all going to work out great or not. Barring this last minute trade, which doesn't look promising, this is it.

MicheleS said...

Do you smell that people, that is the smell of baseball in the air.. Opening day starter named, 15 days to go!

God I can't wait.. Fedex if you are reading, this, my tickets better be there when I get home!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Thanks Steve M...... And the reference about Davey's wife had to do with her dress shop here on Park Ave. and the fact that they had lunch at 310 on Park on the off day Monday.

sjm308 said...

Thanks Feel, I thought so but wanted some reassurance. I also think the rainout/snowout is still in play. Its a long season and my 20 game package will allow me to see just about everyone.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

We've come a long way since the day Daniel Cabrera was our OD hurler, so to speak. He threw, we hurled.

GYFNG!!!

Feel Wood said...

The Plan this year is for the September 2011 Ian Desmond to show up in leadoff in 2012.

And based on Davey's comments about Lombardozzi having a Ben Zobrist-like utility role, Plan B this year in case the Sept 2011 Desmond fails to show up will be more games for Lombo - in which he will lead off - and more of those Lombo games being in place of Desmond instead of Espinosa or Zimmerman or an outfielder. Sounds like a good Plan B to me. Unless you're a Lombo hater as well as a Desmond hater, of course.

LurkerNowPoster said...

For the folks wondering about Strasburg's first home start. It should be April 16th, which is the first game of the series with the Astros. The Astros have an extra off day between Opening Day and April 16th, which means that their #5 pitchers should be going that day. Livan is in the running heavily for a rotation spot. How fun would it be if it was Strasburg v Livo on April 16th? I know I would go! (Mainly for Livo, since this would be the only chance to see him).

A DC Wonk said...

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...
Also, if Desmond doesn't get on base with regularity, what's the team's next best option for the leadoff spot?
March 21, 2012 10:56 AM

In 2010 there was no real alternative to Nyjer, and in 2011 after Nyjer was traded there was no Plan B.

The Plan this year is for the September 2011 Ian Desmond to show up in leadoff in 2012.


Huh? The team has already talked about Lombo's 300 AB and batting leadoff. That, clearly, is Plan B is Desmond falters.

Section 222 said...

Assuming the rotation order is Strasburg, Gio, Znn, Jackson, and Lannan/Wang/Detwiler, here's the lineup from Opening Day through our first homestand. Get your tickets and plan your MASN viewing now!

Thurs. Apr. 5 @CHC SStrasburg
Fri. Apr. 6 off day
Sat. Apr. 7 @CHC Gio
Sun. Apr. 8 @ CHC JZnn
Mon. Apr. 9 @NYM E-Jax
Tues. Apr. 10 @NYM Lannan/Wang/ Det
Wed. Apr. 11 @NYM SS
Thurs. Apr. 12 CIN Gio
Fri. Apr. 13 CIN JZ
Sat. Apr. 14 CIN E-Jax
Sun. Apr. 15 CIN L/W/D
Mon. Apr 16 HOU SS
Tues. Apr. 17 HOU Gio
Wed. Apr. 18 HOU JZ
Thurs. Apr. 19 HOU E-Jax
Fri. Apr. 20 MIA L/W/D
Sat. Apr. 21 MIA SS
Sun. Apr. 22 MIA Gio

Steve M. said...

Lombo may be the Plan B or C, just not what you want to do with a Rookie. Both Bernie and Werth just got on hot streaks last year and Riggles put them in leadoff and they slumped immediately and Espinosa didn't get it done there either.

Leadoff is a mindset. You either love the challenge of it or not. Not even sure if the player has to be the protypical speed guy, just needs to get on base and score runs. Corey Hart and Alex Gordon wouldn't be the guys you'd pick for leadoff. Gordon topped the Majors in leadoff OBP. Go figure!

Anonymous said...

with all of the OD chatter, I haven't seen a post(s) about Storen and this repeated mention of arm pain, the latest description being "forearm tightness." Thoughts?

A DC Wonk said...

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

We've come a long way since the day Daniel Cabrera was our OD hurler,


Indeed! My fever is getting serious now . . . and so I felt I had to compile this list:

Opening Day starters (and results)

2011: Livo, L 2-0
2010: Lannan, L 11-1
2009: Lannan, L 12-6
2008: Odalis Perez, W 3-2 (Ruach credited with W)
2007: Patterson, L 9-2
2006: Livo, L 3-2
2005: Livo, L 8-4

How many starters do we have in 2012 that are better than any of these starters?

Steve M. said...

Wonk, the Lombo plan as I think Davey meant it (my interpretation) was that when Lombo subs for Desi he would slip into Desi's leadoff spot.

I don't take that as a Plan B. Some of you are putting too much faith in Lombo just like many did last year in Danny Espinosa.

I am cautiously optimistic, just not ready to say he is Plan B and hope Davey doesn't need a Plan B. Hoping for Desi to follow his Sept 2011. Remember, I said hoping, not guaranteeing. Just trying to stay positive. Am I nervous? Damn straight!

Diz said...

MicheleS,

Got my tix yesterday.

Love the new look. Much better than the cartoonish tix from last year. Pics are perfect for the new Mktg Message. Time to open up that can-o-whoop-ass!!!!

Also love the Stras pic. No inverted W threre. He looked great yesterday...That HR he gave up to Duda was crap. Duda was completely frozen for strike three the pitch before and was walking to the dug out and about to flip his bat when the umpire called it a ball.

Terrible call. He should have been 5 scoreless for sure.

Anonymous said...

aw man. i was so hoping Stras would start on his bobblehead day (sat apr 14)

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...
with all of the OD chatter, I haven't seen a post(s) about Storen and this repeated mention of arm pain, the latest description being "forearm tightness." Thoughts?

March 21, 2012 11:29 AM


I think that was reported by Ladson and refuted by Storen later as just the normal aches and pains when you start throwing again after a layoff.

Quote from Amanda Comak: "He had normal bicep/tricep tightness after pitching, said that yest. He's fine. No concern about his arm. Strep set him back"

Anonymous said...

also, who pitches the red sox game on Apr 3? Lannan?

Anonymous said...

Feel Wood said...
"The whole point of a rotation is that they pitch the games in that order - which ensures that no starter ever has to pitch on short rest, unless there's a doubleheader. So count the games from Opening Day, and yes Strasburg will pitch on the 16th. Barring a rainout somewhere along the way, of course."

It is not unusual for a 5th starter to be skipped when there's an off day and it's not unusual for a long reliever to pitch one of the games of a doubleheader if their is not a prior off day (scheduled or rainout).

Mark'd said...

Any Plan B has to be an improvement. The musical chairs bit last year at leadoff looked as amateurish as musical chairs.

Anonymous said...

Addendum: However, with Strasburg on an innings limit this year, I would expect DJ to go to a strict 5-man rotation in spite of the off day.

Cease the Opportunity said...

NatsJack in Florida said...

My apologies. I never meant to intimate that you said this. i was just replying to you with my own comment. Me, NOT you...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"also, who pitches the red sox game on Apr 3? Lannan?"

WAG: Stammen

Nattydread said...

Mark --- Off-topic

Any reason you don't have a link to the "Nationals Baseball" blog on the left? Great site that talks good baseball!

Anonymous said...

MicheleS said...
"Fedex if you are reading, this, my tickets better be there when I get home!"

Is someone there to sign for them?

Frediemac said...

So...We will have the following cuts (unless Injury occurs)

CRAIG STAMMEN (Does Craig have Options left?)
RYAN PERRY
RYAN MATTHEUS
ATAHUALPA SEVERINO
CHAD DURBIN

And 2 of these guys should make the team unless they pick up someone from somewhere else. Other than Maldonado

CHAD TRACY
CARLOS MALDONADO-Will be cut
ANDRES BLANCO
BRETT CARROLL
JASON MICHAELS
XAVIER NADY

Anonymous said...

"Leadoff is a mindset. You either love the challenge of it or not. Not even sure if the player has to be the protypical speed guy, just needs to get on base and score runs."

Some is mindset, but if you're not good at getting on base, you're not good.

Don't necessarily need a speed guy batting leadoff, but if he's not, you'd at least hope he can hit a lot of doubles and not clog the bases.

PAY TO PLAY said...

Mark'd said...
Any Plan B has to be an improvement. The musical chairs bit last year at leadoff looked as amateurish as musical chairs.

March 21, 2012 11:46 AM

Agreed. There was a time the Nats rotation looked the same way.

Anonymous said...

Ran across this story, nice breakdown between the Marlins and Nats. Enjoy!

Mike

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7712503/stephen-strasburg-bryce-harper-rise-washington-nationals

sm13 said...

Another Curly W In the books for Mark Z!!

My guess is that the #5 starter pitches on 4/3 and goes 3 innings.

Nats1924 said...

We couldve given JZImm a shot a shot at opening day given GG being new with the club and Stras's innings limit.

But regardless, congrats Stras!

A DC Wonk said...

Steve M. said...

Wonk, the Lombo plan as I think Davey meant it (my interpretation) was that when Lombo subs for Desi he would slip into Desi's leadoff spot.

I don't take that as a Plan B. Some of you are putting too much faith in Lombo just like many did last year in Danny Espinosa.


I agree. But, I think, clearly, it's also an audition for Lombo *if* a Plan B is needed. It's better than any other Plan B, isn't it? After a couple of months, if one of them is batting 50 points higher than the other, the decision will be easy to make. I think this is a good plan.

And, as for me, I don't see that as putting too much faith in Lombo -- just a clear realization that that's the best "plan B" available if they need one.

Anonymous said...

Not THERE'S a great picture of the inverted W!

Section 222 said...

What you have to love about Davey is that he is really no nonsense. He says what he thinks and gives no chance of second guessing or reading between the lines.

Yeah, ok. He's also a master spinmeister, can change his mind at any time and never be called on it, and plays the media like a drum. Werth's body can handle CF, then he can't. Harper needs to go to AAA to learn to play CF, but he might throw Lombo out there because Lombo reminds him of Ben Zobrist. He's not worried about Morse, or LaRoche. Desi and Espi are his No. 1 and No. 2. Desi's HS coach messed him up. Whatever.

DWS said...

Umm, he has managed before. Give's the press what they want to hear. Please read the Grantland article mentioned in various posts.

Section 222 said...

I second Nattydread's suggestion and endorsement. Nationals Baseball:Whoseanders and Whatsiglories? is a great Nats blog. And the blogger's name is Harper, to boot.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

Anonymous Mike, thanks much for the link.
The Washington Nationals' Stealth Rebuilding

That Rany Jazayerli guy is a good writer.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

I, also, chuckled when I read "Davey Johnson is no-nonsense." They guy managed the Mets, for goodness' sake. Nonsense is a natural part of the arsenal.

But 222, you say "He's also a master spinmeister, can change his mind at any time and never be called on it, and plays the media like a drum." as if that were a bad thing.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

*THE guy
of course

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