Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strasburg: "I feel ready to go"

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg tossed five scoreless innings against the Mets today.
VIERA, Fla. -- He's got one more start to fine-tune a few things before he takes the mound at Wrigley Field, but Stephen Strasburg doesn't have much left to accomplish between now and Opening Day.

"I feel ready to go," the Nationals right-hander said today following his penultimate start of spring training.

The New York Mets who faced Strasburg today at Space Coast Stadium wouldn't disagree with that sentiment. Though they scattered five hits, a walk and a hit batter in five innings against the young ace, they never crossed the plate.

Strasburg wasn't in tip-top shape, and his pitch count of 84 was a bit high for only five innings of work. But he struck out five, mixed in several high-quality offspeed pitches and seemed to bear down when he really needed to.

"I think that's huge," he said. "Because not every inning is going to be 1-2-3. Being able to throw quality pitches in big situations, it's what separates the elite pitchers from the average ones."

Strasburg's 4.12 ERA in five overall starts this spring is nothing to get excited about, but he's been particularly sharp his last two times out, allowing only one run over 10 innings.

He's said all along he was looking to build himself up to reach his peak on Opening Day, as opposed to his first camp with the Nationals in 2010 when he burst out of the gates from day one.

His mindset and approach to opposing hitters began to shift into regular-season mode today, and he'll try to keep it there Friday night when he faces the Marlins in his final tune-up before the April 5 opener against the Cubs.

"Yeah, it's definitely in the rehearsal stage, going out there trying to execute pitches and not necessarily go out and try to work on stuff," he said. "When you step on the rubber, it's go-time right now."

Said manager Davey Johnson: "He's awful close. It's hot down here, and he's been working hard, but I like his delivery. I like [that] he was free and easy. Last two times out, he's really been really close."

Not that the results of these games matter, but Strasburg's strong outing today did come at a good time for the Nationals, who had been 0-10-1 over their last 11 games. Behind their ace's five shutout innings and an opportunistic lineup that pounced on Mets prospect Matt Harvey for five runs in the bottom of the first, the Nationals cruised to a 12-0 victory.

Was it coincidence that the losing streak ended with Strasburg on the mound?

"He's supposed to be a stopper," Johnson said. "That's why I named him No. 1."


greg said...

so, at this point, who's lined up to pitch the home opener (4/12)?

Sunderland said...

Home opener - Gio

Cwj said...

Lots of good quotes from the Mets' side regarding Strasburg and the game:

Terry Collins on Bay's HBP by Stras: “It’ll leave a mark,” Collins said. “When it’s 97 mph, it leaves a mark.”

Anonymous said...

#acomak In case you didn't know, from game notes: "Strasburg is a tall & powerful RHP, best known for a unique blend of velocity, power & control."

#MarkZuckerman Is that from @NationalsPR game notes or a Chevy truck commercial?

Seems like the new NatsPR is a tad maudlin?

natsfan1a said...

Doesn't seem all that sentimental to me, but I don't really know the guy/gal.

You know who should do a truck commercial? Jayson Werth, that's who. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Its the story about a man named Brady ... errr I guess that would be Brady Anderson the new O's grand pooh bah of athletic development ....

Oh the Geico caveman trick truck guy ... its the story about a man named Jayson who is bringing up the 5th generation of baseball stars ...

(He ought to be in that commercial with the Gecko and the Caveman someone definitely could come up with a great script for that!)

Anonymous said...

Cwj said...

Lots of good quotes from the Mets' side regarding Strasburg and the game:

Werth was told his mammoth shot to left field actually hit the outfielder’s own pickup truck in the parking lot, but he was unsure immediately after the game whether that was true.


natsfan1a said...

Sounds pretty good, Anon@7:07. Someone just needs to flesh it out a bit for us. :-)

NatsJack in Florida said...

First off Werth parks behind right field.

Second off....aside ftom the switch being hit, there are things I would love to see happen in the next 10 days. 1. Ian Desmond has to figure out how to fight off strike 3 when faced with a 3-2 count instead of hoping the close pitch gets called ball 4. 2. Danny Espinosa has to learn how to let the off speed breaking pitch that scrapes the ground go when batting left handed. And 3. Wilson Ramos has to drive the ball up the middle instead of rolling everything over to the left side.

Aside from that, I'm ready for Spring Training to be over. 21 games in 29 days while maintaining a job sure can wear out a 65 year old. (Well, that and all the beer.)

Anonymous said...

on 2.) Agree from a distance NatsJack. Both Desmond's and Espinosa's OBP's are miserable. Particularly alarming with K leader Desmond. And ONLY 2 walks!

Honestly, right now Bernadina looks like a better lead-off hitter with his 6 walks.

In any case I can't see Desmond lasting through May. And if Rendon puts up the kind of numbers he is expected to? And Kobernus in Harrisburg after last season's 50+ steals? Not sure where Zachary Walters fits but certainly one can hope for massive pressure from the minor league system. Sure looks like AAA Syracuse could feature some mashing ...

3. Espinosa actually looks like he is improving. But I don't think he should be batting second. Looking at the hitters I would say that role belongs to DeRosa if he is a starter on opening day. His stats appear to support his ability to handle that spot.

4. Ramos just hasn't been the same since the kidnapping. While Jesus Flores has gone in the opposite direction. I note that Davey has been playing Flores an awful lot ... basically alternating with Ramos. Have to wonder if that continues into the season? Flores did something he was adverse to earlier ... he walked twice.

As Davey put it. Lots of tough decisions ... he isn't as confident in his original lineup as he was at the beginning of ST.

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty good, Anon@7:07. Someone just needs to flesh it out a bit for us. :-)

The Jayson Werth Story

NatsLady said...

Have y'all seen this pic of our former boy Gomes in Japan??

Jonny Gomes may have MLB's best haircut

Doc said...

Is Ramos still recovering from a minor leg injury??

Good to see JFlo is picking up the beat, although I expected more from Ramos this spring.

Steady Eddie said...

Good thing as Stras is the Wrigley Field starter - 10 day forecasts for Chi-town show highs in the mid-60s for the three or four days up through April 3, which is as far out as they go right now.

Good he's less likely to face the kind of frigid opening day temps we had in DC last year (high around 41 and clammy)!

Also DC current prediction for the Bosox exhibition on April 3 is clear and high of 70. For what 10 day forecasts are worth.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for the pic, NatsLady. That's awesome.

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