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Strasburg’s adjustment produces win

Jul 10, 2010, 4:15 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg’s best performance in a month resulted in his third win.

Stephen Strasburg threw 17 pitches (eight strikes) in his first inning on the mound tonight. Four of those strikes were tagged by the Giants, one of them ricocheting off the facing of the second deck down the right-field line at Nationals Park. Clearly, San Francisco’s hitters felt like they knew what they were doing against the rookie pitching sensation and had reason to believe they could keep it up all night.

Somewhere between the first and second innings, though, Strasburg came to an important realization, something perhaps he should have realized in recent weeks as opposing hitters began to look more and more comfortable against him.

He wasn’t pitching to his strengths, wasn’t confident in what he was throwing the way he used to be in college. It was time to get back to that form.

“After that [first inning] I was like, ‘You know what? If they’re going to beat me, they’re going to beat me on me calling my own game,’” Strasburg said. “I was just putting it all on my shoulders, and I have to do that from now on.”

Read more about Strasburg’s important mental adjustment and Adam Dunn’s hot streak at the plate on CSNwashington.com.

  1. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    Keep up the good work, Mark. You da man.

  2. Steve - Jul 10, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Can we put Super Stephen behind the plate on his off days to call games for the other Nats' pitchers?

  3. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    Amen, Steve!And I'm sure Dibble would agree.

  4. natscan reduxit - Jul 10, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    … I'm satisfied that the AS Game was not the place for our young boy Steve. But maybe for an unusual reason. I believe he needs to take this time off to find a razor and get himself back to the image he shows in his original Nats' photos – clean chin.Go Steve!Go Nats!!

  5. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    "After that [first inning] I was like, 'You know what? If they're going to beat me, they're going to beat me on me calling my own game,'" Strasburg said.Ummm…excuse me, but there is a powerful little nugget of a clue as to the insanity of what we call Nats Baseball in that statement. If he's not in control of pitch selection, then that ONLY leaves two other possibilities: Nieves and Riggleman (who signals pitch types to Nieves). Young Steve just revealed one of the hugest disconnects on this currently-winning-yet-still-dysfunctionally-managed team. Need assistance connecting the dots? Here:Riggleman says he trusts his ball players to make the right decisions, yet he tinkers with their confidence with pitch selections his pitchers aren't comfortable with. He does similar uber-nano-management tinkering with lineups under the guise of keeping everyone as sharp as possible (when everyone who's ever suited up knows that to hone a team to its finest edge a manager needs to keep the lineup consistent, and reward consistent excellent performance by remaining on the starting roster; instead, there is no relationship between starting and performance. Riggleman is all about which side of the plate a guy hits from, and not about performance. This in part explains his Willie Harris and Nyjer Morgan mancrushes.Mr. Strasburg innocently and naively exposed the thing no one ever dares say yet many of us realize: More often than not, Riggleman is the other team's best tactical asset; just wait until the Nats' pitcher is at 100 pitches, and then get ready to unload your team's big lumber. Riggleman is an example of what happens when you become a slave to a particular method of management. If Lerner is happy with the Riggleman-Rizzo tandem, and if enough money is flowing in, then any level of sin is permissible. Yet if they aspire to more than merely making a buck, the Lerner tribe must consider alternate leadership arrangements.

  6. Jim Zurer - Jul 10, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    >>"After that [first inning] I was like, 'You know what? If they're going to beat me, they're going to beat me on me calling my own game,'" Strasburg said.<<So does this mean that Strasburg is unhappy with the pitch calling of Pudge and Nieves? If so, that seems like a big deal.

  7. carolync - Jul 10, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Not to be overlooked is the fact that the team played errorless ball behind Strasburg last evening. This has not been the case in his last three starts. I had expected to see Gonzo playing short but Guzman did a solid job.

  8. greg - Jul 10, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    anon, take off the tin foil hat.in the major leagues, catchers call games, not managers (and not really the pitchers, directly). catchers make the first move calling a pitch, based on strategy discussed before the game with the pitcher and pitching coach, and the pitcher can shake him off if he wants something different.so nieves was making pitch suggestions, but stras wasn't shaking him off, just throwing what he was told to throw (same as he did earlier with pudge). and it wasn't riggleman calling pitches from the bench. jim zurer's comment is probably a more appropriate question. i wonder if it's purely a game-calling issue or whether it was more of an overall "plan" issue, and that they need to change the plan of attack they make before the game, or whether it's just better in-game adjustments.

  9. Mark Zuckerman - Jul 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    I think you guys might be misinterpreting Strasburg's line about "calling my own game." That doesn't mean he was constantly shaking off Nieves. I think it was a case of him being more vocal before the game and in between innings about what he wanted to throw and how he wanted to attack hitters. Nieves said he only shook him off a couple of times.

  10. natsfan1a - Jul 10, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Great game last night. Nice of the Nats to give 1b such a rousing send-off for the final in-person game of her visit. Oh, and get it Dunn!!! :-)

  11. bdrube - Jul 10, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    @carolync – "Not to be overlooked is the fact that the team played errorless ball behind Strasburg last evening." Yes, but Guzman still demonstrated his clear lack of decent range when he flopped down to stop a ball up the middle that wound up as a infield single. Desmond would have had that ball easily and (hopefully) made the throw. Get that done and SS gives up only two hits.Lost in the easy victory was the fact that Riggs threw out one awful lineup last night and got away with it. Good thing Cain didn't have his stuff or SS might have been looking at another no decision.

  12. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    One of the posters said it well. The only thing that should matter when setting up a starting lineup is past performance. Yes, it IS true that the only thing necessary for Riggo to put you in the lineup is how you bat, left or right.Solve the Nationals' deepest problem by hiring a REAL manager, one who can acknowledge that his tactics haven't worked (and probably won't), and break the chains that keep Riggo bound to his lefty-righty addiction.

  13. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Strasburg was terrific last nght. His curve ball is literally unhittable. Through his 7 starts I can't recall anyone getting a solid hit off of it. In fact, the curve ball has rendered professional hitters helpless.I wonder why he does not throw it more often? Does it take too much of a toll on his arm or does he save it to keep hitters off balance? I'd like to see him throw the curve more.

  14. Anonymous - Jul 10, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Riggleman lucked out last night. Nieves never should have batted when the Nats had the bases loaded late in the game. That was an ideal situation for a pinch hitter.If Nieves did not get the single, everone would have been looking at that moment last night as the latest of Riggleman's blunders.

  15. A DC Wonk - Jul 10, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    "when filling out a lineup the only thing that matters is past performance"No way! That's the epitome of short sightedness The season is 162 games long. What matters is getting the best performance out of your players for today And for the rest of the season.

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