Nationals bound to ruin Strasburg

Posted: March 5, 2012 by vindanton in Pro Sports

By: Vin D’Anton

Stephen Strasburg

In the past two off seasons, the Washington Nationals have made some pretty big time moves including Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez, and the extension of third basemen Ryan Zimmerman; but while all that seems exciting, Nats fans really should be upset with the team’s front office.

DC’s prized right hander Stephen Strasburg will be limited to 160 innings this season…the Nationals play more games than that! Also, Strasburg will be under a strict pitch count, another shocker.

If anything, pitch counts have ruined some pitchers, most notably Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

Joba, who has seen a starter role and relief role (where he should be) was moved to the starting rotation in 2009. He went 9-6, posted a 4.75 era, and pitched 157.1 innings in 31 starts.  That is a little over five innings a game! How can young pitchers develop if you don’t leave them in their long enough to deal with the pressure of pitching deep into game? They’ll never be ready.

Let’s look at the winners of the American League the past two seasons, the Texas Rangers. The teams owner and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan doesn’t allow manager Ron Washington to limit innings or pitch counts, and guys you never heard of posted great or solid numbers in 2011:

GS: Game started. QS: Quality starts

C.J. Wilson: 34 GS, 16-7, 23 QS, 223.1 innings (All Star)

Colby Lewis: 32 GS, 14-10, 19 QS, 200.1 innings

Derek Holland: 32 GS, 16-5, 19 QS, 198 innings

Matt Harrison: 30 GS, 14-9, 20 QS, 185.2 innings

Alexi Ogando: 29 GS, 13-8, 17QS, 169 innings (All Star)

The 73 wins by the five man rotation was the most in baseball in 2011, and only three other teams had five starters with double digit wins: St. Louis Cardinals (who beat the Rangers in the World Series), the Milwaukee Brewers (who lost to the Cards in the NLCS) and the Tampa Bay Rays (who lost to Texas in the ALDS). I think you get the point.

Strasburg is coming off successful Tommy John surgery and the Nats want to pamper the sacred right elbow, but that may not be the smartest idea.

The 23-year-old told reporters he feels more natural throwing the ball now than he did last September, when he made five starts after recovering from the surgery.

So why limit the kid? All this limited innings and pitch count non-sense does is destroy young pitchers. If Strasburg is pitching a one run, two hit ball game against the Phillies in August and the Nats are up 5-1 in the sixth inning, his mindset will change knowing that his day is cooked even though he is pitching a masterpiece.

As Yogi Berra put it, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” How can a young pitcher grow and develop if he has chains on him? He is most likely to do something desperate or even worse, get emotionally distraught because he can’t play the game the way he wants too. Seeing a guy warm up in the bullpen midway through a decent pitched ball game is not the answer.

The Nationals are well on their way to taking a potential baseball treasure away from us.

 

 

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