Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Strasburg won't skip a start

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his next start Saturday in Los Angeles.
With today's series finale against the Marlins rained out and an off-day tomorrow in advance of a West Coast trip, the Nationals could have used this opportunity to skip Stephen Strasburg's next turn in the rotation and perhaps ensure their ace would be available to make a more-important start in September.

But the club has no such plans to fiddle with Strasburg's pitching schedule, and there will be no concerted effort to delay the eventual decision to shut him down once he reaches his innings limit for the season.

The same theory applies to everyone else on the staff as well, according to manager Davey Johnson.

"One of the worst things you can do to any pitcher is to give them too much time between starts," Johnson said today. "Regularity is what they need. All of them."

The oft-stated and much-publicized innings limit on Strasburg in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery has elicited plenty of reactions around the baseball world.

Some support the Nationals' plan to restrict the 23-year-old right-hander to roughly 160 innings. Others believe they should just let him pitch straight through the entire season. And still others would like them to find a way to finagle his schedule in an effort to delay the date when he's shut down.

Don't look for the Nationals to do anything out of the ordinary, though, in an attempt to keep Strasburg on the mound as deep into the season as possible. That includes in-game decisions by Johnson on when to pull his starter, such as yesterday's outing in which Strasburg departed after six scoreless innings and 94 total pitches (23 of them coming in a somewhat laborious sixth).

"I've never really ... I don't like that entering the equation," Johnson said. "And I'm sure he doesn't, either. But I'm going to basically treat him like, if he'd had an easy sixth, I'd let him hit, give him one more inning. But it was a little too many pitches."

Strasburg, 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts, is now scheduled to make his next appearance Saturday at the Dodgers. He'll miss an opportunity to pitch in his hometown of San Diego this week.


Section 220 said...

No reason at all to mess with the kid, the games count just as much now as in September.

sm13 said...

The management of Stras's innings is not about this year, it is about his long-term heath. If they play it smart and let him fully recover from TJ surgery, like they did with JZmm, we will be enjoying Stras for many years and debating whether he or Verlander is the best of his era. If they mess around, get him off rhythm, or try to push him too hard, we'll be comparing him to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Stick with the plan Rizzo- we're building a dynasty, not a one-year flash in the plan.

bdrube said...

I was thinking that they might hold him back to make his season debut for the home opener since they had an off day in Chicago and did not actually need a fifth starter on that opening road trip (which would have also meant he would have been scheduled for THREE starts on this homestand).

Since that was a more logical way to hold Strasburg back and they didn't do it, I can't imagine they would play games with his starts at this point.

Cwj said...

Great article Mark!

Yeah, the national baseball media has come up with some pretty bizarre ways to extend Strasburg to game 162 (and more?).
Like a 4-5 inning limit per start, skipping a start, or even perhaps not even have him pitch until June!
Weird stuff.

I agree with the plan in place: #1 starter, no actual inning per game limit (pitch count only), roughly 160 innings for the season, regular rotation spot, etc.

As SM13 hinted at, Strasburg is pretty close to Verlander as top (hard throwing ace) pitcher in MLB. Lets not waste his career for 1 year to satisfy baseball's talking heads.

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