Stras-Tracker Mid Season Report

DC Sports Nexus ---- Monday, July 9, 2012

Here we are at the halfway point of the season and Strasburg has burned through 62% of his innings.  My quick math says I don't think he is going to make it till the end of the season...but then that shouldn't come as a surprise.

He did an interview today with Holden and Danny on 106.7 The Fan.  Here are some of the highlights:

On arm strength:

"It feels really good [the arm]...I've been getting stronger and stronger."

"100+ pitches is a lot easier than it was earlier in the year."

On Innings Limit:

"I can't really worry about that to be honest [the innings limit]...its something that they haven't discussed with me."

The fact that they (Rizzo & Davey) haven't discussed any of the innings limit stuff directly with Strassy isn't because they are being a-holes...It is because of the following:

"They don't want me to worry about it in the clubhouse...when it comes to game time they just want me to go out there and pitch and go as many innings as I can."
With those quotes in mind, let's take a look at his season thus far...

He Is Who We Thought He Was
Alright, there was never really much doubt that Strasburg was going to be a dominate force in MLB, even though he only started 17 games in his first two seasons.  Still, it's good to see him start to put everything together and become a full time member of the Nationals.  A 9-4 record, with a 2.69 ERA are numbers any club would love to have at the head of their rotation.

So What About Pitches
The whole idea of counting innings always seemed to be...a bit imperfect.  I mean there is a huge difference between throwing an immaculate inning (9 pitches, 3 strikeouts) and getting shelled by the other team.  So how is Strasburg doing pitch-count wise?  Well he has thrown 1,603 pitches, averaging 94.3 per game.

For comparison, lets look at Justin Verlander, a dude that does not know the meaning of a pitch count.  He has 2,032 pitches in 18 games, giving him a 113 pitch per game average.  Verlander hasn't had one game under 100 pitches this season.   

Setting the Pace
Strasburg reached those 99 innings over the course of 17 games.  For those of you following along at home, that puts him right around 5.8 innings per game.  By my calculations, he has 10.5 games left at his current pace.  This places him around 27/28 games for the season.

For games started numbers I always go back to Jeremy Guthrie's time with the Orioles, because he was never injured and pitched from the top of the rotation.  In his 5 seasons with Baltimore he never pitched less than 30 games in a season.

Losing Strasburg for 3 games may not seem like a big deal, until you consider those 3 games could decide our playoff fate.  Not to mention the fact that he will be missing those playoff games if we do get into the dance.

Method to the Madness
If you've ever sat down and watched a game with me you'll know I'm the first guy to scream at Davey for yanking his starters to early.  Yet, just looking at how Stras finished the first half of the season might give the innings limit he is on some support.

Strasburg has taken losses in his last three starts.  Sure one was in Coors Field, and the other two were written off as caused by the heat.  Guess what, I'm just not buying that explanation.

What I am buying is that Strasburg is feeling the strain of his first full season.  Until this point he had only pitched in 17 MLB games for his career.  Couple that with the fact that in the 3 games before his "slump" Strasburg threw 119, 89, and 111  pitches, averaging 106 pitches per game, and I think he was just feeling tired.

Second Half
In a perfect world Strasburg would come back rested from the All-Star break and return to his lights out form.  I've already heard Davey plans to set up his rotation with Stras as his 3rd starter to give him a longer break.

Yet after seeing his last three starts, I'm not sure that shutting him down at 160 isn't the right call.  We'd still have Gio and J-zimm and the rest of the staff.  We could bring up Lannan or another pitcher before the trade deadline  I'd like our chances with those guys in a 7 game series against anybody.

Still, if we get down to the final month of the season staring the playoffs in the face I'm not sure who it's going to be harder to break the news of a Stras shutdown too... Strasburg or the fan base.

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