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Strasburg vs. Atlanta: The Sequel

Jul 27, 2010, 2:08 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and the Braves get another shot at Stephen Strasburg.

Baseball is a game of matchups. Pitcher vs. hitter. And those matchups are repeated. Three or four times during a game. Ten or 12 times during a season. Dozens of times during a career.

Every pitcher has a book (usually mental, sometimes physical) on every hitter he's ever faced. And every hitter has the same for every pitcher he's faced. Over the course of time, they come to know what to expect from their opponent. Whether the pitcher likes to throw breaking balls to get ahead in the count. Whether the batter is susceptible to changeups low and inside.

Once one side has figured out the other, it's up to that player to recognize what his opponent is trying to do to him and make the necessary adjustment. Start throwing fastballs earlier in the count. Lay off those changeups. At which point there's a whole new round of adjustments made. It's a never-ending cycle, and it's what makes this game so intriguing to so many.

Any pitcher can fool an opposing lineup the first time he faces them. But can he make the necessary adjustments to do it again the next time they square off?

For the last seven weeks, Stephen Strasburg has enjoyed the luxury of mowing down opponents who had never faced him before. It's a decided advantage for the pitcher, especially one with his incredibleRead more »

  1. yankish2 - Jul 27, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    There's one thing not to forget about Strasburg Mark; he's a rookie.

  2. Doc - Jul 27, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Nats picked Detweiler 6th, and the Braves picked Heyward 14th in the 2007 Draft. Drafting pitchers, notwithstanding SS, always has less probability of success than drafting a position player. A lesson that Rizzo The Scout needs to learn. How neat would it be to have Heyward and Harper in the same outfield!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. N. Cognito - Jul 27, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Good pitching is harder to come by. You have to draft a boatload of them and hope a handful work out.

  4. Section 222 - Jul 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    @Doc – Yes, what a nice solution that would have been to our RF problem. Thanks for reminding me.Great setup for tonight's game Mark. It should be a fun night out there — big crowd, decent weather, and two phenoms going head to head.

  5. court - Jul 27, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    From what I've read about the '07 draft, the 1st round pick was all Bowden, with Rizzo taking over from then on out (see Zimmermann, Jordan). While Detwiler's career is still very much TBD, having Heyward in RF would be pretty sweet. I hope we see a better Detwiler with more rest and less rust next time out.

  6. Stew Magnuson - Jul 27, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    And we get to see Strasburg face the Phillies in the same homestand.I'm pretty pumped up to attend both games this week.

  7. Steve M. - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Should be a packed house tonight. In order to get 2 seats together, the best available for box office purchase was Section 135U.Plenty in the Upper Deck still.

  8. Jimmy D - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Learning this week about Strasburg's "mean streak" and how he thrives in those payback situations, I expect some stepped-up intensity from him tonight. To recap that first game against the Braves: After dominating for six innings, then watching his defense crumble behind him, Stras got pulled in the seventh to the chants of "over-rated" from the Atlanta fan base – who must have been watching a different game than I was up to that point. I expect to see him playing with a chip on his shoulder tonight. Although, even Bobby Cox, admitting the obvious, said Stras was everything as advertised and more, with perhaps the best change-up in the game. For the sake of that chip on his shoulder, I hope Stras didn't hear Cox say that

  9. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    The draft is a crap shoot and it's always easy to look back on it with the information you have now and say the Nats should have taken a player they didn't. Remember 12 other teams passed on Heyward as well. While scouting does go into the draft, there is a bit of luck as well regardless of if the player is a pitcher or position player. Pitcher David Price went number one that year and that has worked out pretty nicely for Tampa. Two position players were chosen ahead of Detwiler and neither have made it to the big leagues. The Royals took Michael Moustakas at number two and he is in AAA with a target of 2011. The Cubs took Josh Vitters number three and he is on the DL for their AA affiliate. So pitcher or position player, it's really a crap shoot.

  10. Jimmy D - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Re: Hayward and the draft choices. It's important to remember that 11 teams passed on him (us included) before the Braves got him at #12. Missing on Hayward wasn't something unique to the Nationals' front office. Hindsight is 20/20, and as others have said, you need to draft a lot of pitching for a few to pan out.

  11. A DC Wonk - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    Doc said: Drafting pitchers, notwithstanding SS, always has less probability of success than drafting a position player. A lesson that Rizzo The Scout needs to learn.Of course he knows that. Everybody knows that. That's exactly why the Nats have been drafting so many pitchers.

  12. phil dunn - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    Hayward comes from the Atlanta area and had extensive training as a youth at the highly respected Cobb County Baseball Program. The Braves scouts had been drooling over him for years. A recent Sports Illustrated article on Hayward suggested that the Braves tended to downplay Hayward's abilities so he would slip to their #14 draft slot. SI also suggested that Hayward's family and his agent did likewise because he only wanted to be drafted by the Braves. Playing for the Braves was his life long dream. According to SI, that is why he slipped to the 14th slot. In other words, if the Braves had the # 1 pick in that draft, they still would have drafted Hayward with that pick.

  13. Steve M. - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Heyward certainly is a big league talent but he has a long way to go before I would consider him a superstar player. I still believe he was voted into the All Star game on hype and his numbers were no way better than even Josh Willingham's.Look at can't miss Matt Wieters who so far is having a horrible 2nd season although last night had his best game in the majors.Right now, Buster Posey is the Rookie who I think is the future superstar.

  14. Steve M. - Jul 27, 2010 at 4:54 PM

    Oh and by the way, Buster Posey is from Georgia too and he went in the #5 pick to the Giants in 2008.The Orioles picked Matusz with the #4 in 2008!

  15. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    The Braves — who unlike in the previous encounter, will have stud rookie right fielder Jason Heyward in the lineup tonight Dear Jim Riggleman:RF Jason Heyard is hitting .538 with a 1.228 OPS in that stretch.RF Michael Morse is hitting .556 and 1.778 OPS in the last seven dayss. RF Michael Morse is hitting .583 and 1.883 OPS in the last 14 days. RF Michael Morse is hitting .364 and 1.140 OPS in the last 28 days.

  16. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Ok, I think Rizzo has Bowdenitis!!! Kurkijan is reporting that the Twins inquired about Capps and Rizzo is asking for catcher Wilson Ramos in return, is he CRAZY!? Ramos is their #1 prospect and hit the cover off the ball when Mauer was on the DL earlier this year and he is offering Capps for him!? I think maybe Capps, Clippard, Storen, Dunn and Willingham might get you Ramos, Mr. Rizzo…stop asking for the moon and ask for fair trade value for a guy who is at his peak now! I think a reasonable get from the Twins for Capps would be Brian Duensing.

  17. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    if the Braves had the # 1 pick in that draft, they still would have drafted Hayward with that pick.And Roy Clark is here now … hopefully some of these players he drafted turn out to be big-time sleepers.

  18. hleeo3 - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:34 PM

    -Anon 1:26Relax, its called "strategy" or "negotiating". Rizzo is gonna playing this game until July 31st. Rizzo will aim high and the Twins will offer low and if the Twins are still interested by the deadline they will probably offer something in the middle ground to what Rizzo wants if they are desperate enough. Not to mention Rizzo could be asking for alot because he may not want to trade Capps.

  19. HHover - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    @ 1:26 – Let's not got our panties in a wad. This is a) a rumor, and thus may bear little relation to the truth, and b) if true, is a negotiating strategy to test the market and see what he can get.It's best not to get too worried about these rumors. And if you're going to worry, better to worry about the rumors that have the Nats trading major assets for too little–not the ones that have them asking for too much.

  20. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    stop asking for the moon and ask for fair trade value for a guy who is at his peak now! I think a reasonable get from the Twins for Capps would be Brian Duensing.Pudge is about to run out of gas. Nieves should be in AA. They really do need Wilson Ramos … if it takes Capps plus Willingham plus prospects it might be worth it.

  21. Sec3MyAnonym-ity - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    anon @ 1:41"Capps plus Willingham plus prospects" ?!?You'd go broke fast.

  22. Steve M. - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Kind of off-topic about this Stras-Heyward matchup, earlier today on they posted an article titled 'Jesus' against 'The J-Hey Kid' and now the article has been retitled to "Heyward, Strasburg make acquaintance". of the commentors show how many don't are offended by the use of the nickname and doubt the know how Nyjer came up with the nickname for Strasburg.

  23. Sam - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:52 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Sam - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    All discussion and analysis of this game is moot anyway. When Strasburg faces Heyward, the world will end.

  25. Steve M. - Jul 27, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Matt Capps to the Twins for Wilson Ramos is a deal they may take if the Nats spice up the deal with Justin Maxwell!I give Rizzo credit for aiming high and higher. When someone has a player you have, it is a game of high stakes poker. If Capps is dealt the other team keeps him under team control for 2011 too.

  26. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    @ Steve M…Nyjer mentions strasburg as "Gee…zus" not the name of the Christian savior "Jesus" that is what irreverent incosiderate Nats fans use to reference Stephen Strasburg. I also think the J-Hey Kid is a horrible nickname for Heyward and an insult to Willie Mays.

  27. Bowdenball - Jul 27, 2010 at 6:35 PM

    Anonymous 1:41:Does the name "Derek Norris" ring a bell?I have no problem trading our major league guys for prospects, and I see the obvious value of a Wilson Ramos, but let's not pretend the cupboard is completely bare for the Nats at the position so that they need to sell the entire farm to get him. One of the Nats' best hitting prospects is a catcher.

  28. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    Wilson Ramos is far from the Twins top prospect. I've always hated the nickname "Jesus" or "Gee…sus". It needs to go away. I don't care about religion or blasphemy, it's just annoying. "J-Hey" is terrible also.

  29. N. Cognito - Jul 27, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Anonymous 2:13 PM said… "@ Steve M…Nyjer mentions strasburg as "Gee…zus" not the name of the Christian savior "Jesus" that is what irreverent incosiderate Nats fans use to reference Stephen Strasburg." I don't use either but they're just a hyperbolic metaphors. Get over it.





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