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Strasburg’s health overshadows loss

Apr 30, 2013, 4:20 AM EDT

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Stephen Strasburg allowed two runs over six laborious innings.

ATLANTA — His overall numbers — 3.13 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, nearly one strikeout per inning — are by no means cause for alarm. Those are the numbers you’d expect from a good major-league pitcher.

With Stephen Strasburg, though, the bar has been set exceedingly high, in part due to the hype surrounding the young right-hander but mostly by his own doing over parts of the last four seasons with the Nationals. So when Strasburg fails to live up to the beyond-lofty standards everyone has for him, it’s only natural to wonder if he’s 100 percent healthy.

After Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Braves, manager Davey Johnson suggested his ace isn’t, that he was dealing with forearm tightness that required a postgame examination, that it’s too early to know whether he’ll make his next scheduled start or not. Strasburg refused even to acknowledge any physical issue and insisted he’s “not missing my next start, I’ll tell you right now.”

This much is certain: Through his first six starts of 2013, Strasburg may be pitching well enough to give his team a chance, but he’s not pitching well enough to be considered the ace of a World Series contender. And whatever is going on with his right arm at the moment is of more concern to his manager than the fact his team just lost its eighth straight game to its chief division rival.

“Yeah, that overrides everything,” Johnson said. “Hopefully he’s going to be all right. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
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  1. Less Platu - Apr 30, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    With his lousy mechanics, who could be surprised? Stras uses the Bird delivery, with elbows higher than pitching hand and arm late to get into the slot — leads to injury, and more Tommie John.Poor Stras, he's such a gamer: I do wish he'd tweek his release to prevent permanent injury

  2. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 30, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    I hope Strasburg is OK. He was so wild last night it's not surprising to learn that something was wrong. Injury is the only thing that can stop a guy with his talent.

  3. Laddie Blah Blah - Apr 30, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    I hope Strasburg is OK. He was so wild last night it's not surprising to learn that something was wrong. Injury is the only thing that can stop a guy with his talent.

  4. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Just got up , only to realize that a baseball game just ended less than an hour ago. You think you are upset about losing? Try six and a half hours, then losing. I think three outfielders went down with injuries between the two teams, too. Marlins, Mets went almost two games worth also. April needs to die.

  5. Rabbit34 - Apr 30, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    It seems SS states that he is ok. Johnson is suggesting he isn't. Sounds like they are looking for excuses for their dismal season so far. It isn't Strasburg's fault one third of the lineup is batting around .150. He could be 5-0 if he had any kind of support. You have to hand it to Harper and Werth. With everyone else walking around with their heads down and shoulders slumped, they are exuding confidence. All the pitchers, including Strasburg, are doing their part. This just isn't the year guys.

  6. Manassas Nats' Fan - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    The nature of pitching, most pitchers have tightness after 3 or 4 games each year. That by itself is not usually a worry. It is inflamation in elbow and shoulder that would be cause for concern.

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    If you saw the postgame with Strasburg he's saying he's not missing his next start.

  8. EmDash - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    It'll always be a cause for concern for Stras because of the injury history, though. I'm glad he's saying that he expects to be fine, but of course he'd say that unless he knows for sure that something is badly wrong, and even then it's ill-advised to talk to the media about it until a doctor confirms.

  9. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Did MASN show the postgame with Strasburg? He walked away from reporters shaking his head side to side with that same retort "I'm not missing my next start".

  10. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    One of the things the players like about Davey is that he basically lets them make their own decisions. Is that always a good thing? He was such a harda$& when he was younger. Maybe a coach needs to be more of a disciplinarian , especially with a young team. Stras won't start unless the organization says he will start. Players don't always make good judgements. We have seen it time and again. Stras is still so very immature and it seems to hinder his development as a pitcher.

  11. JamesFan - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    When Stras made his debut, he struck out 14 and dominated. Today he is "pitching to contact," and getting tons of advice on this and that. Stras–pitch. Cut out all the noise and crap and pitch. Coaches, doctors….go away.

  12. Don - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Stras is likely fine. At this point there is not much reason to think that there is much, if anything, wrong with Stras. Espi in the 2 hole, though, makes me wonder if Davey might need a check up from the neck up.

  13. Rabbit34 - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Ah, remember the good ol' Babe-Ruth-League? That was baseball. It wasn't this lousy ol' major-league mechanized crap. You'd see real baseball in the majors is they weren't paying so much for the parts. Disgusting.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Jordan Zimmermann had the same problem with "forearm tightness" last season and he got through it.As for striking out 8 Braves hitters yestetday, heck, I could strike out at least 4.

  15. Dave - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Yes, every time I turn on a major-league game, I say to myself, "I wish I could see some real baseball, instead of this big-league crap."???

  16. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    I love FP, but one of the mets announcers said last night- and Buck hits it into the technicolor nonsense. He went flamingo. That park is interesting. Stanton down again. I am actually much more worried about Werth than Stras. Players breaking down after one month. It does not appear that this team came out of Viera in shape and sharp to play. One of the sloppiest, ugliest Aprils I have seen. I think we are lucky to be around five hundred at this point with some of the crisp I have seen.

  17. baseballswami - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    That would be crap as interpreted by auto correct.

  18. SCNatsFan - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Perfect quote by Clip – "I walk leadoff guys all the time and its fine". Obviously not last night. We are losing because everyone in this organization thinks if we do the same things good things will happen. Not happening.Obviously I hope SS is OK.And doesn't anyone think a trip to Syracuse might wake up Danny E and his .182/.222?

  19. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    What did Werth fouling a ball off his foot have to do with not being in shape, Swami?

  20. Dave - Apr 30, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    I just saw the Clippard quote. Not exactly the way you put it, SC, but rather, "I've done it plenty of times in my career and gotten out of it. It's one of those things."Still, Clippard's lead-off walk arguably cost the Nats the game last night, so I don't like hearing that from him.I was wondering about the Werth thing as well, JS. I don't think you could classify a hard foul ball off an ankle as being out of shape. I haven't seen any indication at all that Werth is not in shape, in fact. Hope he's okay, of course. As I hope for Strasburg.It's a frustrating time to watch this team. On the other hand, LaRoche got a hit and a walk, so that's something.And then, of course, the Braves are just really, really good.

  21. Rich P. - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Perfect quote by Clip – "I walk leadoff guys all the time and its fine".There was a nice shot of Strasburg grabbing his stuff and heading down the tunnel with a disgusted look on his face right after Clippard issued that leadoff walk. He knew what was coming, and he knew it wouldn't be fine.Never was a big fan of Clippard, but the guy has totally lost it this year. No command of his fastball, can't pitch it in the zone at all. So the batter lets the fastball go by and sits on the changeup in the zone. Result? Walk or base hit. F.P. called it.

  22. SCNatsFan - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Dave, I know it was a paraphrase but my gist was he thinks its OK to walk the leadoff hitter and the 60% of the time he scores because he thinks he can get out of it.

  23. Rich P. - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    "And then, of course, the Braves are just really, really good."The Braves who were just swept by the Tigers, who are here next week? OH NO!!!!!!

  24. Rabbit34 - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    When a guy gets a base hit and we're all encouraged, you know we have a big problem. Span being picked off cost us the game also. The pick-off, the lead off walk, the strikeouts, they all cost us the game. As I've said before, this team is just boring, predictable, non-exciting.

  25. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    And they were swept by the Pirates==we meet them on Friday… No easy teams for a while yet, boys.

  26. original Nats Fan - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    boy, all the neganinnies are out in full force. Chill, it is still early

  27. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Span, as in the book was picked off. It was a crappy call. As to people questioning why he was taking a big lead, Span is supposed to upset the pitcher's concentration by making him worry as much about the runner as he does Harper at the plate. It wasn't so much a dumb play as it was closer then it should have been. I think the 1st base ump had several bad calls including the one that went our way on ALR's tag on the runners leg.

  28. Tcostant - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    A 15 day DL stint could be just what he needs…

  29. Rich P. - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    "As I've said before, this team is just boring, predictable, non-exciting."Dude, if you're bored by a 3-2 baseball game you need to find another sport to watch. Try lingerie football.

  30. JD - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Joe Seamhead, I thought Span was out. I don't blame him at all. That was an incredible pick off move. I was really aggravated by Stras failure to bunt which also put Tracy out to dry at 2nd base. We could have scored 4 or 5 runs in that inning and knocked Tehran out. Also, on the play when we threw out Uggla at 3rd base the run shouldn't have counted because Uggla was out before the runner touched home plate. Again I can't blame the ump for that call because you could barely tell when they freeze framed it on TV, how is an umpire supposed to get it right in real time? that should be a replay review able play. The umpires blew a call at 3rd in the 8th inning when they called the Brave runner safe. That didn't cost us but I don't know how an umpire staring right the base can get that wrong and I thought Desmond was safe at 1st in the 9th and that could have changed the inning around.

  31. BigCat - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    To tell you the truth, I'm glad there is something the matter with Stra. Cause watching him last night, his fastball command was just atrocious. He was all over the place. His velocity is also down. 94ish. So if he was feeling good, there would be big concern. Don't get me wrong. You never want someone to be hurt, but in this case, I'm glad there is a reason for his pitching.Can't McCatty see his left shoulder flying open and him falling off the mound in a heap towards 1B? Come on man? Even FP was talking about it

  32. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Span, as in the book was picked off. It was a crappy call. As to people questioning why he was taking a big lead, Span is supposed to upset the pitcher's concentration by making him worry as much about the runner as he does Harper at the plate. It wasn't so much a dumb play as it was closer then it should have been. I think the 1st base ump had several bad calls including the one that went our way on ALR's tag on the runners leg. April 30, 2013 9:20 AM Span's lead was fine. It was his lean to his right as you could clearly see on the TV replay that didn't allow him to get back quick enough. If you are keeping up on Span, he did this twice on televised games in Spring Training.It was Nyjer-esque. This is twice in games vs. the Braves where Span made a running mistake that proved costly and BOTH in the 1st innings. Think back to Game 1 against Tim Hudson and Span is on 2nd and Werth hits a line drive that is caught and he was thrown out easily in a doubleplay.

  33. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Not being negative. We can beat any team, include the Barfs, Tigers and Pirates. Just have to DO it. We are not a bad team, just having a bad streak. Think how happy we were going 3-1 vs. the Reds…

  34. BigCat - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Also with Stra. His curve and change up were outstanding last night. There is no crime in throwing 2-3 curves in a row, or change ups. Seems like he always comes back to the FB and serves it up on a silver platter….Bang…base hit! Even that HGH swelled Uggla hits him

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    JD said… I thought Span was out. I don't blame him at all.It was a good move but Span was the one caught. With Bryce up and 1 out, he has to be more conservative in that situation.

  36. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    A curious thing: Nats are 0-6 against pitchers under 25. Also seem to lose the first time we see a guy. I remember that Rizzo hired an extra scout to travel ahead to check out opponents. Are we getting enough information on these new pitchers? Except for Harvey, these guys are not ace-material. Hopefully, this is just a fluke of small sample size.Nats recordhttp://ladyandthenats.blogspot.com/2013/04/what-are-babies-thinking.html

  37. JD - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    NatsJack, You may be right about JZimm but Stras hasn't been right since his 1st start. His fastball command has been way off and consequently he is throwing too many pitches. He has also been frustrated with himself and his overall body language hasn't been good. I think the Nats should be really careful here. As much as heat as they took last year for protecting him it may be prudent to proceed with caution.

  38. JD - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Ghost, That wasn't just a good move. It's the best move I've seen from a right hander in a very long time and it was the 1st inning. I think our big opportunity was in the 2nd and if STras gets that bunt down we can have a really big inning there.

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    JD….it could be a physical problem but I see it more as a mechanical one. Stras doesn't seem anywhere near as effective at 93-95 as he does at 96-98. I think that whole "you don't have to strike everybody out" dictum from McCatty is screwing with his mechanics.

  40. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Ghost you are correct in that he was leaning, and as such got picked by a good play on the part of the pitcher. I still feel like putting Nyjer and Span in the same breath is pretty unfair. The only similarities I see between those two guys is that they are both left handed, African American centerfielders. I thought he was safe, and felt that the replay showed it was a bad call, as was the one in the ninth on Desmond. Whatever, yesterday's news.My point is Denard is supposed to disrupt the pitcher's concentration. As is the case in many other things so far this year, the execution didn't quite work out the way it was supposed to.GYFNG!!!

  41. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    JD, I'm thinking the same. I love the illogic of "The Nats didn't go to the WS because of shutting down Stras." Well, he was inconsistent in September, and he's inconsistent now. Of course, he's had pitiful run support, I mean really pitiful April 1: 1 run lead for innings 1-3, then 2-run lead. (W2-0)April 7: game up 3 runs in 1st. Tie 3-3 until 6th when he gave up another 3 runs. (L 6-3).April 13: 0-0 tie until 3rd inning when he gave up 2 runs (L 3-1)April 19: gave up 2 (unearned) in 1st inning & 2 in the 6th (L7-1)April 24: gave up 3 in 1st inning (L 4-1)April 29: gave up 1 in 1st inning, then lead 2-1 until he gave up 1 in 4th inning (L 3-2).That is a lot of stressful innings, where he was either tied, 1 run lead or losing.

  42. natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Seconded.Joe Seamhead said… I still feel like putting Nyjer and Span in the same breath is pretty unfair. The only similarities I see between those two guys is that they are both left handed, African American centerfielders.

  43. NatsLady - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Also, mention was made yesterday of a simulated 1st inning for Stras as part of his pre-game warmup. That was tried for Wang, and it did work–for a while. But the trade-off is less innings pitched in the actual game.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Ghost you are correct in that he was leaning, and as such got picked by a good play on the part of the pitcher. I still feel like putting Nyjer and Span in the same breath is pretty unfair. The only similarities I see between those two guys is that they are both left handed, African American centerfielders.Uh, African American, really? Let's not go there and I find that demeaning to mention that.No, the comparison is a leadoff hitter with speed whose job is to get on base with a high OBP and wreak havoc while staying on base and scoring runs. This is about a player getting himself on base and using poor judgement and removing himself from that base. It's a back breaker and probably the reason that Strasburg took the mound in the bottom of the 1st looking ticked off.

  45. A DC Wonk - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Interesting stat of the day:Mike Trout: 2 HR 12 RBI .263/.330/.424/.755Jason Werth: 4 HR 10 RBI .265/.314/.408/.722

  46. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Well, my intentions weren't meant to be demeaning, and if it was taken as being demeaning then it was misinturpreted. I find comparisons between Span and Morgan as players, or as men, to be degrading to Span. I'm moving on from this.

  47. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Funny things, those stats are, Wonk.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Well, my intentions weren't meant to be demeaning, and if it was taken as being demeaning then it was misinturpreted. I find comparisons between Span and Morgan as players, or as men, to be degrading to Span. I'm moving on from this. April 30, 2013 10:31 AM If someone is poor intentioned than it's a real shame.In a small sample size Span is making some poor baserunning plays. The comparison goes back to a player who was infamous for running his team out of innings.Span has to do better on his baserunning just the same as Espi has to work on his situational hitting.Many players are trying to do too much. It's understandable.The worst part was once again the Nats let a pitcher off the hook.

  49. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    A DC Wonk said… Interesting stat of the day:Mike Trout: 2 HR 12 RBI .263/.330/.424/.755Jason Werth: 4 HR 10 RBI .265/.314/.408/.722Trout went 1-8 yesterday. He's still a "red hot week" away from batting .300 with a .370 OBP and a .800+ OPS

  50. Joe Seamhead - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Ghost, look at the still shots here and tell me if you think it was the right call:http://voxrationalis.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/42913-a-lousy-night-for-the-umpires-in-atlanta/

  51. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 30, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I saw the replay. He was back safely by inches. It was a tough call by a 1st Base Ump who screwed up that call, Freeman caught off the base and Desi's hit/out in the top of the 9th.The issue is never making it that close even with a great pickoff move. That was the 2nd move over by Teheran and the 1st one was good. You could see it. Teheran is an exceptional RH move to first. Bryce is up and you have to know he will do something good so you can't get picked. One out (because Espi could grasp the situation to work the count and at least move the runner over). It was just unfortunate. It was more of a mental error of aggression which is far better than falling asleep.Stras once again gets on the mound in the 1st inning like someone just kicked his dog.

  52. BigCat - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    All the talk about Span. I think replays showed he was safe. And yes, that was probably the quickest right handed move to first base I've seen in a long time. Span was called out. So what. The play that broke out back was that big plumber Tracy gettin picked. And Strasburg didn't even make contact. Stra can pout all he wants. He should look in the mirror

  53. natsfan1a - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Joe at 10:31, yes, I took your meaning and am of like mind. Also, new post – yay.

  54. BigCat - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    But ahhhhh….its good to have baseball back in DC. When Zim gets back people are gonna pay

  55. Knoxville Nat - Apr 30, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    As Jayson Werth might say, "Things need to change".

  56. Ivan Tuski - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    If you look at how stressed out we all are on the message board while now following the team having expectations you can then begin to imagine what the effect on the players may be

  57. Unknown - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    The Nats will be lucky to hold onto second place in the NL East. No hitting, no pitching, sloppy defense and a manager who is napping. That's a bad combo!

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MIAMI 51 53 7.0
NEW YORK 50 55 8.5
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