Skip to content

Waiting to be set free

Sep 24, 2011, 4:21 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg struggled early but rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Braves batters.

A three-run first inning should not be a death sentence for most pitchers, who typically have plenty of time to work through their problems and often salvage a quality start out of the early carnage.

The Nationals, though, can’t afford Stephen Strasburg the kind of rope right now that would allow him to overcome a shaky opening act. Still on a strict pitch limit in his first month back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander knows that his margin for error is razor-thin and that one bad inning can doom an entire outing.

“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “But I know there’s going to come a time where they let me stay out there longer. If I give up three runs in the first and put up zeroes the rest of my start, I’m going to be happy.”

Strasburg did just that during Friday night’s 7-4 loss to the Braves. He battled his way through a three-run first inning, digging the Nationals into an early hole, then rebounded to retire 10 of 11 Atlanta batters through the fourth.

Unfortunately, he had already reached the 75-pitch mark at that point, ending his night just as he was starting to feel comfortable again. What probably could have become a solid-if-unspectacular start
Read more

  1. Gonat - Sep 24, 2011 at 4:48 AM

    Drew8 said… Dunn to Kilgore Dec. 3, 2010:"The opportunity arose to play for a team that had a chance to win a ring, and that's the ultimate goal." Sept. 23, 2011:Nats 76-80.Chisox 76-81. September 24, 2011 12:16 AM _________________________________Have to love old quotes that bite ya in the tush. Besides the W/L record, hows about the Chisox play in a much easier Division.

  2. Grandstander - Sep 24, 2011 at 4:50 AM

    So, I was going to make a whole post on Strasburg and the last home games and going into the offseason more hopeful than ever and our great commenting community etc.But then I read that Denard Span apparently rear ended Danny Valencia on their way to the airport and both are now experiencing whiplash and headaches. Span has said his migraines have come back.http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/Minor_car_accident_knocks_Denard_Span_Danny_Valencia_out_of_lineup092311There's been talk of one-sided trades, Morse for Langerhans, Ramos for Capps; and there's been talk of bad deals, like Burnett for Hanrahan and Nyjer for some baseballs; but the Storen for Span non-deal might be the biggest bullet this org has ever dodged. Especially considering they wanted someone like Bernadina thrown in, which ultimately killed the deal.But yeah, all that aside, final 2 games of the home season this weekend. Very sad. The win total, whatever it may end up at, was about where I expected, but how we got there was anything but. So many surprises, ups, downs, and just insane streaks and moments. I think 2011 surpasses 2006 as the second-best season of Nationals baseball, by far (2005 will be hard to dethrone absent a playoff appearance).May the gorse be hacked, GYFNG!

  3. Gonat - Sep 24, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Grandstander, good stuff there! Thanks for the Langerhans/Morse 2009 deal. That's a one-sided deal. The "just say no" Denard Span deal didn't make sense even if it was straight up for Drew Storen. I still think the 2 weeks before the trade deadline was a setback that cost the Nats 2 to 3 losses based on guys having their heads focused on possible trades and the stress associated with it.

  4. Drew8 - Sep 24, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    Speaking of cautionary tales, there's the Orioles' version of the apocalyptic Lee/Phillips/Sizemore for Colon deal.Baltimore got 24 homers from Glenn Davis over three seasons. All he cost them was Curt Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch.In the words of that famed scout, Marlon Brando: "The horror. The horror."

  5. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Don't get off the boat, Drew. But I digress.Agree with Grandstander on 2011 vs. 2006. Looking forward to next year, too. But for now, looking forward to the games today and tomorrow, which I'll see in person.Re. SS, not a bad thing for him to experience some adversity, imo. Builds character and all that. Seems like maybe the hoopla is dying down some, too. If so, maybe now he can just play his game without the added pressure of the big spotlight. That would be a good thing, (again, imo).

  6. NatsLady - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    Don't know if we could have won that one yesterday, Davey apparently decided not, and used his "C" bullpen (Balester, Severino, Maya) and only Maya stepped up, although Severino's second inning was ok. Slaten was warming also…Somebody somewhere trained Maya how to field his position, and fall out of the way when he doesn't get the ball– that was good. 1a, agree on the adversity for Stras. However, I think the spotlight will be back in the spring. Rainy nights with pitch limits are not going to bring out breathless crowds. People are going to want 14 K's or no-hitters when Stras is "set free." Be fun to see if we get them.

  7. Dawn - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Hindsight is always 20/20, Capps and for the most part Dunn performed admirably for the Nationals. Who would have thought Mauer (in his 7th year) would be incurring these weird aliments (lower body weakness?) or Dunn totally lose his ability to hit a homer. The Nationals just came out on top, for now. Werth hasn't had a great year by any means, Dunn's was just a lot worse. Hopefully both will bounce back in 2012.

  8. Gonat - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    After Marlins loss last night, the Nats clinched 4th place worse case. Nats magic number for 3rd place is still 4 games.Go Nats Go Wang

  9. baseballswami - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    I never would have thought at the end of last season that Dunn would be so bad and on a team with the very same record that we have AND — Nyger would be going to the post-season, grrr. I am still glad that he is gone, his antics are exhausting. It's ok in Milwaukee with so many veterans, but would have been terrible for our young guys. Strassie — one thing that still worries me about him is that it seems little things get in his head – I think the mound was screwing him up. We saw this last year,where something would just get to him – I think other teams will see that and try to rile him. I think that will be a bigger challenge for him than pitching.The Philly series was the icing on the season for me, I would love to see us take a couple more games and not get swept out for the rest of the 5 games. But – what needed to get accomplished and looked at has already happened. The foundation is there – now , some good off season work, and some luck…

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    To Anonymous8 from my post yesterday on the baby Nats in Fl. Instructional League…. sorry about the "Danny" Goodwin as I meant Brian Goodwin…. you'll have to excuse me though 'cause I posted that about 45 minutes after having a root canal procedure. Danny Goodwin was an outfielder with the Twins back in the late '80's or so.And why is it so hard to spell Nyjer with a "J"?

  11. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Forgot to mention McCatty's talking about the wave in an interview that aired before last night's game. It was in the context of Peacock's being distracted by the rally towels in Philly. McCatty referenced when the wave first started up in Oakland, and how distracting it was. If memory serves, he waited to deliver his pitch until the wave crested, as it were. Maybe he should talk to the Nats Pack or whatever they're called about not encouraging it – or at least not when *our* pitcher is on the bump. WTH??

  12. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    NL, I don't know. Seems to me that the huge SS crowds have diminished generally, not just with this start. And I would think that half-off beer prices – which I believe his last couple of starts have featured – have drawing power for some. I'm actually fine without the 14 K's if it helps him go deeper into games and gives the team a chance for a W.

  13. Anonymous - Sep 24, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said…And why is it so hard to spell Nyjer with a "J"?You should ask yourself why it's so hard to spell Milone without an 'h'.

  14. Dave - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    (Repeated from the last thread, my little review of "Moneyball.")Baseballswami is right, "Moneyball" is an awesome movie that you all should see. Being written by Aaron Sorkin, it has a bit of "Social Network" feel to it, by which I mean it's a gripping and exciting movie about people who talk to each other a lot. Brad Pitt is very good as Billy Beane.As far as I can recall, it pretty much stays close to the book–with the huge exception that Paul Podesta, who talked Beane into going into the moneyball direction, has become "Peter Brand." I understand that Podesta didn't want somebody playing him, so he has a different name and body shape in this movie. (Jonah Hill as Peter Brand is also very good.)When the game's over today, go to your favorite local cinema and check it out.

  15. MicheleS - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    NatsJack.. sometimes when posting from a smartphone it doesn't recognize words and subsitute's whatever it thinks the word should be and by the time you realize that there was a mistake, you have already posted.Sometimes technology sucks!

  16. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Also reposting:natsfan1a said… Thanks, Dave and Swami. Will check the local listings and try to talk my hubby into going, perhaps next weekend. This weekend will be busy, with a "gals' day out" at today's game and my husband joining me for tomorrow's game. :-) September 24, 2011 10:15 AM

  17. natsfan1a - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Leaving in a bit for a pregame meetup. My not-so-smart phone won't post from the ballpark so will catch you all later. MicheleS, not sure whether I'll make it over to say "hi" today (and not sure where I'll be sitting) but hope you're able to connect with JaneB anyway.Go, Wang! Go, NATS!!

  18. baseballswami - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Go Nats – make the Braves sweat it out! My feeling at this point is that even if they win, they are using up all of their bullets to get to the post season,especially their pitching. They may be very depleted when they get there and these last games are just wearing them down. We played them tough even though they had the day off before playing us. Basically, a rough first inning for SS, 2 errors that led to runs — those things are different and this game would have been a whole different animal.

  19. Grandstander - Sep 24, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    @ DaveIIRC, I read an interview with Sorkin that said since he had to rename DePodesta anyway, he changed the whole character to make it more dramatic. The character of "Peter Brand" works better as a fat, nerdy guy who struggles to gain acceptance in a world of jocks.Have you seen the poster for the soon-to-be-released sequel?http://0.media.sportspickle.cvcdn.com/22/95/d95516f8957255fe96cead3c5384ad78.jpg

  20. Golfersal - Sep 24, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Mark,In past years you always met with us during the last home stand. Are you not doing it again this year???

  21. Dave - Sep 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Sorry, Paul De Podesta. I just read a few interviews with PDP about the movie. It seems that he asked them to change the character's name the day before shooting started. He was just uncomfortable with a portrayal of him being set on film forever, because he really is almost as shy as Jonah Hill's character. At least that's De Podesta's version. I also read in one piece that Demetri Martin was the first choice for the PDP character.

  22. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 24, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Golfersal: I really enjoyed last season getting a chance to sit in the stands for a game with all of you guys, and I would have loved to do it again this season. Unfortunately, I just ran out of time to do it this year since our son was born in late-August. I wound up missing several home games (not to mention all the road trips this month) so I really can't afford to leave the press box for any of these final home games.It's always great to interact with all of you guys in person. Perhaps we can come up with some kind of offseason gathering so everyone can catch up with each other.

  23. JaneB - Sep 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Michelle S …. I left my paper at home with your seat address on it. I seem TP remember section 131 but I thought pup seats were in centerfield…will call has my seats…

  24. natsfan1a - Sep 25, 2011 at 1:17 AM

    On the offseason gathering, maybe at some local sports venue to watch a postseason series game?

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 79 15.0
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Sunday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (4) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 67 2.5
y-ST. LOUIS 87 69 4.5
-------------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 71 7.0 --
PITTSBURGH 84 71 7.0 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 11.5 4.5
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Sunday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter