Saturday, July 17, 2010

Strasburg: Master of adjustments

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg again battled through a tough first inning, then dominated.
MIAMI -- Eight starts into Stephen Strasburg's career, it's become clear what distinguishes this rookie pitcher from just about every single one who came before.

It's not his triple-digit fastball, it's not his knee-buckling curveball and it's not his 90-mph changeup, though that devastating repertoire certainly helps matters.

No, what really makes Strasburg stand out is his ability to dig himself out of an early hole, figure out what changes need to be made and then dominate the opposition until he's asked to hand over the ball.

As you'll read on, Strasburg followed that path once again tonight to shut out the Marlins.


upperdeck4 said...

I am still keeping my fingers crossed, but he seems mature beyond his years. It is refreshing to see a pitcher detetrmine early what is working and daring the opponentts to hit it, rather than trying to use the entire repertoire simply because he has one. Also understanding that he was flying open early in the game shows a lot of knowledge and focus.

Anonymous said...

They need to get Cliff Lee and no one else in next year's free agent market.

Anonymous said...

Mark, did you just make a clever "Strasburg adjust his nuts" joke about your photo? Very good. I smell Pulllllllllllitzer. Thanks folks I'll be here all week and don't forget to tip your waitress. Go Nads! ;)

Anonymous said...

The Nationals are not in the running for Cliff Lee for one simple reason, which is that Cliff Lee will not sign with the Nationals no matter how much they offer him. Lee is looking for a long-term deal, which means that in addition to a massive contract he wants job security, a good baseball city, and an appearance in the postseason for years to come. D.C. can offer only the first and second--the massive contract and job security--and I doubt Lee would WANT to sign a no-trade clause with Washington.

This isn't a past-his-prime Oswalt jumping at any opportunity to abandon the sinking ship that is the Astros, this is one of the best pitchers in baseball who will have contenders and pretenders alike fawning over him and vying with each other to be the first to sign him to a $100+ million five-year deal. You all are crazy if you think we can get a pitcher like Lee. I'm all for spending big money on big-time free agents, but only AFTER we (a) have a good chance of making the postseason, making it potentially worthwhile to invest in them, and (b) have a good enough record / reputation that they will be willing to come for anything less than an exorbitant fee. One good way to make (b) happen is to resign free agents like Dunn and Willingham.

As for Strasburg, I realize it's been said numerous times but if this kind of outing is what we can expect when hitters have a "book" on Strasburg and he doesn't have his best stuff, the future is looking very bright. He's been struggling in the first inning lately and then cruising after he makes adjustments--as he gains more experience I imagine he will have a better idea from the outset what is and isn't working and will be able to skip that initial phase. We know he's capable of it because when everything IS working all game (Pirates, White Sox, Royals) he is nearly unhittable. I think it's hilarious that 0-for-4 Chris Coghlan was underwhelmed by his outing when his team got shut out with seven strikeouts against a man who wasn't even using half his pitches.

Anonymous said...

We'll see. Cliff Lee seems to fit this team like a glove. Just adding him with they have now, shoring up the defense (2nd base, center field) and adding a real catcher in addition to Pudge, and given Jordan Zimmermann's complete recover would be enough to propel this team to the top of the NL East. With Lee, Strasburg, and JZimm and the bullpen they have now I could see them going deep into the playoffs with a couple of breaks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so much disputing that the team could really use a guy like Cliff Lee as I am that Cliff Lee wants a team like the Nationals. As you say, they might go deep into the playoffs "with a couple of breaks," Ciff Lee, and a few other nameless free agents. But that's true of a hell of a lot of teams--what team COULDN'T be improved by the addition of Lee and a few quality position players? From Lee's perspective, he could sign with a team like the Rays or (ugh) Yankees, have a better than 80% chance of making the playoffs before the season even starts, and within a few years probably be wearing a WS ring or two. It simply doesn't make sense from his perspective.

BTW, I think you are being very generous/optimistic in saying that just shoring up the defense, getting a quality catcher, and adding another ace or two to the rotation would put the Nats at the top of the NL East. The Giants have all of those things and they are still trailing the Padres in what is supposedly a weaker division.

Anonymous said...

The Giants have all of those things and they are still trailing the Padres in what is supposedly a weaker division.

It just means the Padre's are better at it. This is not a big hitting team, they do not have our now "legendary 3,4.5", they have better pitching than the Giants (even with Lincecum and Matt Cain). They are also better fielding wise. Same model better results through better defense and pitching.

Anonymous said...

Sure, but my point is that even if the Nats do all the right things and catch all those breaks, the postseason is hardly a lock, and a lock is what Cliff Lee is looking for right now.

Anonymous said...

with a team like the Rays or (ugh) Yankees, have a better than 80% chance of making the playoffs before the season even starts, a

The Rays have stated that they are a small market team and that they would have to shed payroll after this season. I doubt Cliff Lee would ever go there.

As for the Yankees ... well these players also like a challenge, and DC is no slouch when it comes to major market cities. And there's that play "Damned Yankees". Lee would be pitching with a future legend in the game, Stephen Strasburg, His catcher would be a future HOF, in Pudge Rodriguez. They could find a way to attract him here I am certain. He does not sound at all like Mark Texiera.

That said, yes, the Padre's model : good pitching and solid defense. They do not have the talented hitters the Nats have outside of Adrian Gonzalez. Their top of the order is better at getting on base. When our top of the order manages that good things tend to happen because of the 3,4.5 behind them.

Yes, improved defense, a top prospect catcher, a 2B, and CF and a top of the rotation starter like Lee would be enough to propel them to the top of the NL East in 2011. Lee, Strasburg, Zimmermann at the top of the rotation could give the Nats one of the best young pitching rotations in baseball.

Anonymous said...

Sign Lee and Werth (with Dunn, obviously) and start printing the 2011 playoff tickets.

Cwj said...

Funny how the headline "Strasburg struggles" (oft repeated in the media) just doesn't line up with his overall game stats.
Giving up 2 or 3 runs in the first inning or two is struggling. Walking the bases loaded followed by a 3 run triple is struggling. Zero runs allowed is NOT struggling.
Rant over.
(This wasn't directed at Mark or anyone in particular)

Cwj said...

No one disagrees? haha Cool! :)

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