Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strasburg looks ahead to Opening Day

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg gave up two earned runs in four innings this afternoon.
VIERA, Fla. -- After a bit of a ragged performance in his spring training finale this afternoon, Stephen Strasburg said what surely is on everyone's mind inside the Nationals clubhouse right now: "I'm ready to get out of Florida, that's for sure."

Though there are still two more Grapefruit League games to be played, and then an exhibition in Washington against the Red Sox on Tuesday, Strasburg's spring training effectively came to an end this afternoon when he allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits to the Cardinals over four up-and-down innings.

This was hardly a dress rehearsal for the Nationals ace. He already treated his previous spring outing as though he would a regular-season game, shutting out the Mets over five stellar innings. Manager Davey Johnson is having all his starters ease off the gas pedal in their final exhibition starts, so Strasburg was pulled after only 67 pitches.

He finished the spring with an unimpressive 1-4 record and 4.18 ERA, but no one in camp was paying much attention to the numbers, least of all Strasburg.

"Bottom line is, I got my work in," he said, summarizing his spring. "Got the innings in. Felt good some days. Felt a little off on others. All in all, I'm happy with it."

Next up for Strasburg: A date with the Cubs in Thursday's much-ballyhooed season opener. The 23-year-old right-hander has never been to Wrigley Field before. He's never even visited Chicago, so he's particularly looking forward to this.

"I'm just excited for the experience," he said. "It's something that doesn't happen to everybody, starting Opening Day in Wrigley. It's going to be fun no matter what."

It could be a long five-day wait between now and then, but Strasburg actually views that as a good thing: It's evidence his surgically repaired elbow is totally healed and his arm is ready for the rigors of a full season.

"I think now that my arm's in shape, the recovery time [between starts] is a lot less," he said. "That's where I want to be, and that's what I'm happy about. It does feel like a long time before you pitch, and it's not like your arm's still sore or whatever, and five days come up and you're just feeling good again. I think I'm at the point where, shoot, by the day of the [between starts throwing session] I'm ready to go."

After nearly six weeks toiling under the warm Florida sun, can you blame Strasburg if he's a bit eager to head north?

"I think in my mind, he's ready," Johnson said. "I think in his mind, too. He's ready to start this thing off."


Cwj said...

Can't wait to see Stras mow down the Cubs!

Jeff L in VA said...

I think Davey J. knows how to prep pitchers for the Reg season. Strasburg seems prepared despite this being his first real ST. I expect a 6 -7 inning outing on Thursday with 6 SO's 1 W and 1 ER. (Plus a Win for the Nats!)

Cwj said...

Shocking news about Halladay:
"After going 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA this spring, The Phillies released pitcher Roy Halladay. Few teams will likely be interested in signing Halladay, who has given up 6 home runs in 20 innings"

DWS said...

The dreaded 503 error has reared it's ugly head again.
Not at all worried about the pitching.

Cwj said...

DWS- Yeah I've been getting that 503 error a lot recently.
Has Mark addressed what it means?

I have noticed however that if I type a comment, hit publish, get the 503 error...I can hit refresh and the comment will still be published.

Kinda annoying though.

bups said...

Mark, When a pitcher pitches well like Zimmermann did the the other day, you say it is a big deal. When a pitcher pitches lousy like Strasburg has mostly done this spring, it's meaningless because it is spring training. You can't have it both ways.

Cwj said...

Bups- Actually you can have it both ways. The stats mean nothing. It's all about how a player looks, more like scouting (which is why so many people are concerned about Espinosa).
Also, not sure I would say Strasburg has pitched lousy.
See my pre-April Fools post at 5:47.

DWS said...

bups, I think Strasburg has a better handle on his progress than most of the pitchers in camp. The least of my concerns. Hitting on the other hand...

bdrube said...

Strasburg has shown the ability to take his game to another level when need be. During his rookie year, he was very good at AA, excellent at AAA and then outstanding for his MLB debut. Last year, he finished off the season against the Marlins with an emphatic exclamation point as if to announce, "I'm back!"

He appears to be a gamer, just like Doc Halladay.

Feel Wood said...

The single most overused word by every Nationals beat writer is "dominant." (Kilgore uses it so often he's even learned how to spell it.) If Zimmermann and Detwiler were dominant in their last starts, then what was Strasburg today? Submissive?

MicheleS said...

Bups, I think that Mark's comment about Davey pulling the reigns a little could be part of it. Stras is not one to lift off the gas pedal. I don't think when he is on the mound he can down shift to 1st gear, always seems to be going into 5th.

MicheleS said...

Also on the 503 Error got it again when I publish comment, took a screen shot and sent it to Mark.

Cwj said...

Another thing to keep in mind during ST games is that starters are usually held back as far as innings per game.

For instance, had today's game been a real game, Stras would have probably pitched another 2 innings.
So instead of 4 innings/2 earned runs, it might have been 6 innings/2 earned runs.

DWS said...

Good point Feel Wood but you still have to feel very good about this team heading north. I believe Davys going to get the best out of them. I also believe that the players see it. It's not the individual, team first. I think that will be refreshing to players, even if they happen to be on the short end as they say.
I'm hoping to see the best men on the field.

Cwj said...

I for one am feeling pretty good about the Nats right now.
This is the most excited I've been about the Nats, ever.

I am getting tired of ST games though.

Opening day is oh so close now.
Hopefully all of us will be in mid-season form when the games, stats and WINS begin to count next Thursday :-)

Mark Zuckerman said...

Bups: Davey Johnson told all of his guys to treat their second-to-last start like a regular-season game and let them go up to 85 pitches. Then he wants them to ease up in their final start. That's why I (and others) made a big deal out of Zimmermann's previous start (and all the other members of the rotation) but didn't make a big deal out of Strasburg's start today. Nor will I (or Davey) put much stock in the other guys this last time around the rotation.

As for the 503 error message, I've gotten it myself a couple of times in recent days. Wish I could tell everyone what the reason is, but I can't. I believe it's something happening on the server's end (Google's Blogger), nothing specific to Nats Insider. If it keeps up and I can figure some way out to fix it, I'll certainly do what I can.

Anonymous said...

When I get the error message I hit refresh and the right page usually comes right up.

natsfan1a said...

Missed the game today due to other commitments but do plan to be listening in tomorrow. Sounds like I didn't miss much today.

DWS said...

Thanks Mark for your efforts on the 503 issue. Seems to come and go. And because it's Saturday night, the echo might be explained.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I always refresh and 9 times out of 10, I get right to the site

natsfan1a said...

The 503 issue does seem to come and go. Haven't figured out a pattern, if there is one. As cwj notes, one can generally avoid losing a freshly typed comment by refreshing/reloading after getting the error message.

gonatsgo said...

Watching the nats classic on masn - game from July of 09. Stammen is pitching, doing well, hit a double,bunted, fields his position. So sad to see that he has languished in Syracuse. Can't wait to see Willingham hit two grand slams again!

Anonymous said...

NatsJack, I like your commentary and you haven't given too many opinions on the current group.

Espinosa was a K machine the 2nd half of 2011. Do you see Espinosa improving or should we be concerned?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Definitely be concerned. It's in his head bad.

You can see that he's grippin' really bad from the left side. He did hit two balls on the screws today but they were the only balls he could get his bat on. He swimgs and misses far more than any player I've ever seen, especially from the left side.

On a better note, Desmond is the most relaxed I've ever seen him, at bat and in the field.

JaneB said...

Thanks for the eye witness reports, NatsJack. I am glad about Desi, at least.

Anonymous said...

NatsJack, thanks for the reply. There haven't been many games televised to make judgments and I rely on guys like you to be our eyes and ears. Very disappointed in the beat writers being totally reactive on Espinosa and the growing issue. Not sure if it was a coincidence when Steve wrote earlier in the week about the plight of Danny Espinosa then all the beat writers jumped right on it. Its very disappointing to me just like the fluff on Bryce Harper. None of the beat writers jumped on the issue until his weekend of being over matched in the Yankees series.

Bruce Boudreau made an interesting observation on DC's media not really knowing hockey and I'd say the same about the baseball media. Mark has them all beat and still can't get a scoop. They all cover the same story on Espinosa and missed the bigger picture. None of them delved into the past to see if Espinosa has shortened his long swing from 2011? Have anyone asked Davey if he will move Espinosa back in the lineup when he is batting from the left side? Instead, all cream puff questions.

Google says said...

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- Summarize your posts.
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Medium Level (some skills and knowledge are required)
- Use a lightweight template and avoid using the “template designer” from Blogger
- Use Light images

If you are using a template made from the “template designer” tab, there is a simple test that you can do to reveal how efficient your template is: Clean the cookies of your browser and open your blog (not blogger dashboard) by typing the url in the address bar of the browser. Take note of the time that it takes for your blog to load completely; now go to blogger and change your template for any free template and repeat the same steps, clean your cookies and open your blog again and compare the time. Some of the templates made with the “Template Designer” have a poorer performance, especially those that have some java scripts and/or have a background image.

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High level (Skills and Knowledge are required)
- Speed test using Firebug for Firefox

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You will get specific reports on how your CSS is performing, where you can reduce the size of your CSS, where to put your Javascript files, and much more. Most importantly it will create a compressed version of your CSS (best performance) for you to use as well as a copy of all images in a different format, for instance if you have some JPG images, Firebug will compare the same image to other formats and will give to you the same image but under a different format saving you time in editing those images.

Overall there are a lot of things that you will find out about your blog after running a test on Firebug that you may not know how to solve. If that is the case, you can jump into the forum and ask questions about it.

Cwj said...

Anon 9:58- In defense of the DC baseball media's lack of coverage about Espinosa: it is only spring training and Espinosa is merely a struggling second baseman.
"A small cog in a big machine" to steal a famous quote :-)

This team is built on pitching. That, and not how many times Espinosa strikes out, is what will or will not make the Nats a contender for a wild card spot.
Obviously I could be dead wrong on that, but I don't think so.

In my opinion we should at least wait until the season starts before jumping to conclusions.

However, NatsJack attends these games and has very good baseball knowledge. So he may be on to something there.

Cwj said...

...And I feel very comfortable with Lombo waiting to fill in for Espinosa or Desmond, should they struggle badly.

Anonymous said...

Cwj, the team was actually built on pitching last year and they aren't nearly as good as the San Francisco Giants rotation which means they have to score runs.

This media is reactive well after the fact as I have seen it. People that frequent this blog are consistently scooping the media with relevant observations.

Cwj said...

Anon 10:50- Disagree about the pitching :-)
Last year's pitching did very well and is why they won 80 games, but it has been upgraded considerably.

Cwj said...

Here's my fun fact for the day :-)

The NL East's opening day Starters:

ATL- Hanson
MIA- Johnson
NYM- Santana
PHI- Halladay
WAS- Strasburg

Not too shabby :-) Sometimes it seems like we're entering a new Deadball era. Not just any particular division but all across MLB.

There are some very good pitchers out there.

Cwj said...

Johan Santana is apparently healthy and throwing well this spring.
It'll be interesting to see how he comes back after missing all of last year.

Except for when he carved up the Nats, I enjoyed watching him pitch.

NatsLady said...

Ball not dead for this guy.

Plus he made a slick defensive play yesterday. Just not in our league.'S'&sectionType=career&statType=1&season=2012&level='ALL'

Section 222 said...

Morning all. I caught a bit of yesterday's radio broadcast and the Cards' announcers were having a grand ol' time making fun of how long Strasburg took between pitches. (Boy they are a couple of arrogant you know whats.) Is that a concern? They said our infielders were back on their heels etc etc. Hard to believe our ace has any weakness, but a slow working pitcher can be rough on the defense. I don't remember hearing this about him before.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

I may have to change my login name again:


Mark'd said...

222, great point. Can't say I have ever heard the slow thing either.

Horrible broadcast team. Opened the broadcast talking about Budweiser.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Oh, and CONGRATULATIONS, Mark, on your 118th post this month--a new record!

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Which, come to think of it, is probably affecting how the blog loads, and contributing to the service errors.

Dave said...

Strasburg has worked pretty quickly in the past. It seems like after a recent game he commented that McCatty was telling him not to rush so much ... to pause and make the batters think more about what pitches might be coming. Could be he was over-compensating a bit. Also, Mark had noted that he seemed to be moving tenderly after the near collision at first, so could be he was just trying to shake that off & get comfortable. Doesn't seem like a long term worry ... easily fixable if it becomes a problem.

natsfan1a said...

Wait, I thought we were all posting as Anon today?

Section 3, My Sofa said...

I may have to change my login name again:

Anonymous said...

The Nats have always been higher on Desmond than on Espinosa. Perhaps this season, this will come out, to the amazement of some here and to the annoyment of others here.

Soul Possession, PFB Sofa said...

Technically, this is still yesterday's post.

natsfan1a said...

Good point. Sorry for the added annoyment.

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