Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Few Good Men: 13 - Strasburg

It's week two of our journey to 44 player reviews covering each and every player that graced NatsTown's presence this past season. We will continue to tweak the process based on your comments, so keep those going.

Stephen Strasburg - Age 23

How he became a Nat: 1st Round pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft

The Raw Numbers:
Games - 5
ERA - 1.50
FIP - 1.28
K/9 - 9.00
WHIP - 0.71
WAR - 1.1

Key Stat: 0.75 and 1.1. In his rehab year after Tommy John Surgery Stephen Strasburg managed to have an absolutely astounding BB/9 ratio of 0.75 - meaning he walked less than a batter per 9 innings. This is almost unheard of after such a strenuous recovery program. I couldn't help but add a second key stat (sue me), 1.1 was Strasburg's WAR for the past year. Consider that Strasburg pitched less than 5 IP/start that is a fantastic WAR for a starter. The 1.1 averaged to a full season (30 starts) would be a 6.6 WAR - placing Strasburg as the 6th best starter in all of baseball; behind Halladay (8.2), Sabathia (7.1), Verlander (7.0), Kershaw (6.8), and Lee (6.7). 31 starts would place him tied with Kershaw, 32 starts would put him tied with Verlander, and 33 starts would be 2nd in all of Baseball. *All purely hypothetical*

Best Game: Is there really any question as to which game was his best? September 28th vs the Marlins, the last game of the season. Strasburg gave all of NatsTown another reason to get excited about next year. He went 6.0 Innings, gave up just a single to Gaby Sanchez, walked 2, and struck out a whopping 10 batters!

Worst Game: That would be the start right before his best game - September 23rd vs the Bravos. Strasburg only went 4 innings, allowed 3 runs (2 earned), and gave up 5 hits. As worst games go - I would take this as the worst any day of the year.

CapBall Grade: A. This was an absolute no-brainer. Strasburg came back from Tommy John Surgery without missing a beat. He is ready to assume his place among the MLB elite in 2012.

2012 Nats Status: Barring a setback or freak injury, I believe that Strasburg will be the Nats #2 starter next year - behind Jordan Zimmermann. His fastball, predictably, dipped 1.5 MPH but his Change and Curve also dipped along with it, which is really all that matters. It should be noted that his fastball hit triple digits in the final game of the season - when he was fileting fish. Expect his velocity to top out around 99-100 next season. It should be a fun year watching him pitch.


  1. #2 starter? Do you really think Zimmermann gets to pitch on opening day? I assumed it would be Strasburg.

  2. I have a feeling that the organization is going to want to protect him with kid gloves and keep him out of the spotlight (which he hates) as much as possible. JZim is now a few years into his career and fully recovered from his own surgery. I think that the combination of those factors will put Strasburg as the best #2 in baseball.

  3. I think Mac's right that Strasburg will start the year as the #2SP in the rotation. He'll be under IP restrictions (130-160IP), while JZimm will have the leash taken off.

  4. Agreed about the #1,#2 situation. JZimm is less flashy but totally deserving of that spot - his era and whip ranked very well within mlb this year, his innings-restricted comeback year. Stras will have his ups and downs and that should not happen in the #1 spot for any 23 yr old coming off tj. If he dominates, it can always shift in the second half. I can't wait to see these young guys compete for that spot in the future. Co-aces for sure ala Halladay and Lee.

  5. I'm not worried about the 1.5mph dip in his fastball. During his recovery, he adopted the "pitch to contact" philosophy, getting the outs with less pitches, going deeper into games, and saving the lightning bolts for when needed to get out of jams.

  6. Here's a nickname idea, 'cause he's got so much heat:

    Stephen "Sterno" Strasburg

  7. Here is why JZim will pitch on Opening Day, barring something odd happening in Viera:

    (1) He's earned it; he was clearly the best starter on the team while he was here;
    (2) The only possible alternative (pending a major acquisition), Strasburg, is on an innings limit;
    (3) Let JZim get an OD start now; hopefully Strasburg will have the next 10-12 (knock on wood); but most importantly
    (4) Assume JZim goes Opening Day, April 5th, and Strasburg is in the #2 spot on April 7th. Four games later, and four days rest, brings up the #2 spot again on April 12th. Which is the Nationals' home opener.

    Convenient, that :)