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Determined Strasburg should rebound

Aug 11, 2010, 4:19 AM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning tonight.

The number of legitimately poor starts in Stephen Strasburg’s pitching career, even dating back to his junior year at San Diego State, is minuscule. Without question, it can be counted on one hand, maybe even with the thumb and pinkie excluded.

So tonight’s clunker by the Nationals rookie — he was roughed up by the Marlins for six runs in 4 1/3 innings — was a shock to everyone in attendance at Nationals Park and throughout the baseball world.

Once it was obvious, though, that Strasburg’s right shoulder had nothing to do with this performance, attention could be shifted away from the pitcher’s physical state and toward his mental approach to what just happened. And if his few past struggles are an indication of how he handles these things, the Nationals should rest easy and expect a big-time, bounce-back outing when Strasburg re-takes the mound Sunday afternoon against the Diamondbacks.

“He’s a competitor,” pitching coach Steve McCatty said. “He expects a lot out of himself. I know he’s going to be angry at himself. But this is a learning lesson for him. You’ve got to learn from your failures. That’s how you get better.”

As you’ll read on CSNwashington.com, Strasburg has a strong (if brief) history of dealing quite well with adversity.

  1. Souldrummer - Aug 11, 2010 at 5:20 AM

    Stras certainly didn't have his best stuff tonight and earned his loss. The check swing call that would have been strike 3 he lost early that put him in the stretch was costly as were the tough but catchable plays Willingham missed in left. Seemed to me he was focused on establishing the fastball after his curveball command struggle. The Marlins have a lot of guys who like fastballs and they hit them hard. I will gladly take this outing if he's healthy enough to go Sunday and bounce back. The biggest goal for me this year is to get him to 150IP so that they will trust him with 180IP next year. If he can do that while growing as a pitcher, the results will come before the year is out. As always, sounds like he was mature and reflective in the postgame presser.

  2. joe - Aug 11, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    MarkIs it me or does it seem like Pudge doesn't come out to the mound anymore to try and calm the kid. Especially since Stra told the press he was gonna throw what the wanted

  3. Stew Magnuson - Aug 11, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    Strasburg-mania is over. Not because of his performance, but because there were 15,000 empty seats there before he threw a pitch. It was fun while it lasted.No need to get seats online anymore and pay the $4 apiece fees.I actually convinced my baseball indifferent wife to come to the game last night to show her what all the hoopla was all about. Let's not forget the lousy performance of the line-up, who once again made the opposing pitcher look like an ace.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 11, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    What is his ERA in home games when it is above 90 degrees!? 12.00???? He was horrible against the Mets and horrible last night…Jason Bergman could have done better!!!!One word: Conditioning! SS has never pitched in heat and humidity and is at the end of his rope as far as innings pitched from last season. I believe this is what we will see as long as it stays hot and humid in DC this season. Mark Z: Was it 90 plus the day he failed to get loose in the bullpen? My guess is yes!

  5. markfd - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    @ Stew MagnusonI was surprised how fw people were at the park last night given it was a Strasburg start.I agree..when our offense can only generate 2 runs it taskes herculean efforts from our ptuiching staff to pull off a win.

  6. natscan reduxit - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    …in one respect, last night's brawl took the attention of the average fan away from Steven, and that’s a good thing. He doesn’t need the media rubbing his nose in it; he knows he had a bad start and he also knows he’ll rebound…. but as for the brawl, I was never a fan of the Cincinnati baseball club. Jim Bowden was a buffoon; Marge Schott was a clown; Pete Rose was a .. well, enough said. But the Reds can’t hold a candle to the mistake of history that is the Cards. Tony LaRussa is a disgrace, simply bad for baseball, and Bud Light will eventually have to deal with something far worse than a brawl if Tony the Lawyer is allowed to carry on unchecked.Go Nats! Go (home) Marlins.

  7. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Anyone check Nalasco's last road start? It was a gem of a 1-hitter against San Francisco. Not exactly chopped liver.As for Stras, a 20 day layoff with only simulated pitching efforts is not conducive to quality starts. A 60 pitch start in Harrisburg may have been more of a stepping stone back to the rotation.He just couldn't keep the ball down much like his shellacking last fall in Arizona.He'll be fine.

  8. Jimmy D - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Is Willingham injured? He ran like he had led in his feet last night. Seriously, is his range really that terrible and I just hadn't notice till last night?

  9. Anonymous8 - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Jimmy D – I think Willingham like last year breaks down. He is probably playing through back pain. He isn't getting under balls with power.When I mentioned this 2 weeks ago people jumped all over me for being negative on Josh. Slowly his OBP is dropping and his power numbers are falling quick and his defense last night was costly.Also, Souldrummer did a good job of echoing my thoughts especially how Strasburg's game started. He needs to do some homework on the opposing teams stars to stay out of their hot zones. He made a mistake to Uggla and a couple to Hanley but in all due respect to Hanley—-he doesn't have many weaknesses.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Sorry but I meant Sanchez in my last post. Had Nalsaco on the brain as I had hoped we could make a run at him up to trade deadline.Sanchez threw the one hitter against the Giants.

  11. Mr. Donkey - Aug 11, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    It was really hot at the game last night. It seemed to get hotter as the night wore on. I couldn't take the heat nor the play on the field. With seats in left field, I'm a big fan of Willingham, but he just looked terrible last night. He should have had both of those balls that were hit to him. A big let down given his past performance out there. The ceremony before the game was great. It's great that the team is honoring its history and that of the Grays. Really classy. Lets get some Nationals up on that wall.

  12. markfd - Aug 11, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Mark,It looked like the Marlins definitely watched lots of tape on Strasburg from their previous meeting, they did not bite on the pitches tasiling out of the zone and typically sat at the back line of the box and waited for dead red and attacked. why did he throw so many fastballs and so few changeups?

  13. Anonymous - Aug 11, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Why didn't the Nats keep the Expos hat on for the game and only wear it for BP? I wish they wore throwback Expos uni's too!!!!

  14. Anonymous - Aug 11, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    I think the analysis of SS performance here is over the top. He clearly could not throw any of his secondary pitches for strikes last night; it happens. There will be bumps along the way; he is not going to win 30 games. Great pitchers are able to win even if they don't have their normal stuff or command on a given night; SS is not there yet but he just turned 22; let's give the kid a break; the key here is that he is healthy; everything else will fall into place.

  15. A DC Wonk - Aug 11, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Anon, at 11:46 — you're exactly right. This is a case where the simple explanation is the right one: he couldn't get his other pitches over, fell behind in the count too often, had to throw fastballs, and, boom, that's the story. Guys like Ramirez and Uggla are great hitters, and can kill any pitcher who doesn't bring his best stuff. And a whole lotta big leaguers can hit 100-mph fastballs when they know it's coming.

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