Monday, April 1, 2013

Strasburg efficient as ever in Nats' win

USA Today Sports Images
Through his first three major league seasons, Stephen Strasburg struck out batters at a manic pace. His 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings ratio last season led the majors and were the most since Kerry Wood whiffed 11.35 per nine in 2003. Exciting, sure. But sustainable, maybe not.

The Nationals ace is hoping this year to pitch more so to contact, keep pitch counts low, and in turn stay on the mound later into games. In Monday’s 2-0 Opening Day win against the Marlins he took a convincing step in that direction.

Strasburg needed only 80 pitches to carve up Miami batters through seven innings. He finished with three hits allowed, no walks, and just three strikeouts. The Marlins made contact, they just couldn’t get anything going.

“I noticed in spring training early on that they don’t want to get to two strikes,” Strasburg said. “I was fortunate enough to be making good quality pitches and getting some quick outs.

“I’ll take the quick outs any day of the week.”

Strasburg actually gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre. But he quickly settled in and retired the next 19 before a Giancarlo Stanton double in the seventh inning.

The key to his efficiency, according to manager Davey Johnson, was the command of his fastball. 

“Stras was amazing. He basically threw a lot of fastballs and threw a few curveballs and a few changeups. Basically he was locating his fastball real good. He just pitched a great game.”

Strasburg’s efficiency set the tone for a quick day. The total game time for Monday’s win was two hours and ten minutes. The pregame festivities seemed longer.

Strasburg was in a zone that left his teammates impressed and, for a while, little to do in the field.

“Definitely makes my job easy,” Denard Span said. “I almost got a lawn chair out there. Not too many balls were hit to me.”

“It's fun when he's throwing strikes like that,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “You get behind him, with his stuff, you're in trouble. It was an unbelievable outing by him today. I think he's learned how to pitch, which is scary."

When Strasburg left the mound having only thrown 80 pitches through seven innings, many expected him to be back out for the eighth inning. On Friday Strasburg said he was looking forward to pitching later in games this season, specifically into the eighth as he has never done so as a major leaguer. But out trotted reliever Tyler Clippard for the next inning, as Johnson decided Strasburg had done enough.

“Any other day other than opening day I probably would’ve gone farther with him,” he said. “Opening day, it drains you. It’s a long spring, coming out there, opening day crowd, all the ceremonies, all the people.”

Johnson said his original plan for Strasburg was 90 to 100 pitches, but he decided to relieve him anyways after getting seven strong innings.

“I didn’t think he was tired, even at the end of the game. But again, first time out, opening day, gave me seven solid innings. I’m not pushing the envelope. I never have, never will.”

Strasburg said he felt great at the time he was pulled and could have gone longer, but he understands his manager’s decision.

“If it wasn’t Opening Day and the first start of the year it would have been a different story.”

Strasburg was glad the first game is now in the books and that Opening Day is finally over after months of waiting. Now the team can get back into the routine of the regular season where Strasburg hopes to have plenty more opportunities to pitch in the eighth inning and perhaps even longer.


peric said...

Its really a shame that CSN doesn't have the TV contract to cover the Nats. I am sure that the opening day videos with Davey Johnson and Stephen Strasburg would have sound. And wouldn't be orphaned by an organization that prefers to pay more attention to the Ori-holios.

NatsNut said...

LoL Denard!

Section 222 said...

Speaking of lousy TV coverage, I just fast forwarded through some of the highlights and the MASN crew totally messed up the 7-2-6-4-2 double play. They were showing crowd reaction to Harper's throw while the play was still in progress!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sean Burnett in to face Jay with man on 2nd and 3rd in the Angels/Reds game.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Sorry...meant bases loaded.

NatsJack in Florida said...

And the Jay is Jay Bruce.

NatsJack in Florida said...

And Sean comes through.

Joe Seamhead said...

Good for Sean. I wish him and his crooked cap good ju-ju.

Whack-a-Mule said...

A comment received from my older son, exiled to Chicagoland, regarding today's Nats win:
"That's what closer stuff looks like."

MicheleS said...

It's going to be soooo good to watch Stras pitch this year.

Laddie Blah Blah said...

SS is still only 24, and is the youngest starter in the rotation and has the least experience of any of them, including the guys in the pen. Harper and SS are not only great talents, they are baseball prodigies. Many commentators on MLB already have anointed SS the best pitcher in the NL, and a favorite for the Cy Young. And he has never even pitched for a full season in the majors.

This could be the year he comes of age, both on the field and in coming to terms with his status as one of the game's best. He's an introvert. So is JZ. It may take them a while to come out of their shells. I can wait. We have Gio and Detwiler in the meantime. And Davey.

sjm308 said...

Will post first and then go back and read others.

What a great time!!!!

Wooooo Hoooo MicheleS!!!

Opening days are great to begin with but this one came with just about the perfect ball game. My thoughts are:
1. The play by Zimm was huge. Kept them from jumping out to an early lead and SS from throwing lots of pitches early.
2. Harper is just amazing. What a treat to get to watch someone like him. I saw Mantle in his prime and this kid is on his was to that level and maybe higher.
3. 80 Pitches in 7 innings for Strasburg is perfect and Clip and Soriano to finish is a recipe for success. I liked Ramos going out after ball one to the 2nd batter to talk to Clip and LaRoche came over as well.
4. What a crowd!! Took us 20 min. to walk down after the game. Lines to get in the two bars that are near the stadium were ridiculous. This area needs more establishments and they will all be gold mines. Loved the Morse song in the 7th inning and it took us by surprise.

5. Guess who wanted a Red Curly W hat?? Yes my step-daughter from St. Joe's is slowly but surely coming around.
6. Missed the NI meeting but it was just too nice to leave a seat at Justin's to come in early.

Sorry to give so much trivial information but it really is exciting to be a fan of this team right now.

Go Nats! (the white 1926 hat will be on until at least Wed. night)

timeless46 said...

Just read the MLB Miami wrap up of the game. Some classy quotes from Nolasco, who except for Harp's two bombs pitched a very good game.

Joe Seamhead said...

sjm308, there was too much going on with opening ceremonies, awards, etc for too many people to go to the tables. We stopped by and met Scooter and KenzD. It was a pleasure.

Section 222 said...

Watching the game on DVR and Clip looks pretty darn unhittable. And Soriano? Wow. Intense and nasty. I guess we shouldn't go too overboard here -- remember who we were playing...

So the Nats are still advertising season tix. I guess they didn't make it to 20K. Either that, or the 20K limit was baloney. Or both.

Section 222 said...

Joe S -- Sorry I missed you and the others. I was there at around 12:25 or so. Didn't see anyone (although I did ask a few guys sitting at the tables if they were Insiders), and I had a 10 year old with me begging me for Dippin' Dots. Hope to meet you some other time.

MicheleS said...

222 Kilgore had a tweet earlier saying they are either at or close to the 20K. Like others said, we will see on the first sucky rainy night

Joe Seamhead said...

I met Scooter and Candide, (not KenzD)

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