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The Baseball Show: How can Strasburg turn it around?

Apr 18, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

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On Thursday’s ‘The Baseball Show,’ one segment featured a discussion about the early season struggles of Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg through four starts carries a 1-2 record, 6.00 ERA and a WHIP that has soared to 1.571.

The Nats’ rotation as a whole, in fact, is now second-to-last in baseball with a 5.21 ERA as a group. Only Arizona (7.63) is worse, and guess who is at the top: the Atlanta Braves. The Braves’ rotation ERA is at 1.58, or less than one third of the Nats’.

Mark Zuckerman, Rob Carlin, Brent Harris and guest commentator Joe Orsulak discussed what is going on with Strasburg and the Nats’ rotation in this clip right here:

They also looked ahead to how Doug Fister can help the Nats once he returns:

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Your title is my question. I’m less concerned about Roark and TeeJay, and waiting for Starsburg to be a dominant #1

    • nats128 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Starsburg, did you spell that wrong on purpose?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        I actually spell it Starsburg on my spellcheck because he’s supposed to be a Star.

  2. Doc - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    It’s all about command in general, and command of his new pitch, the slider.

    SS had in the 1st game against the Fish; didn’t in the recent second game. Stanton’s monstrous HR was off a slider that was left over the inside middle of the plate.

    Maybe the result of his minor bone chips op, from which he still is in recovery mode???

    Anyway, I have faith that things will fall in place in time.

    P.S.

    Who can we trade to get Stanton?

    • jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      I think that phone conversation (if Beinfest doesn’t hang up) begins with Giolito and moves on to Goodwin and A.J Cole. You know the fish don’t want anyone who makes the big bucks or is about to.

      • Doc - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Actually jd, Beinfest’s phone has been disconnected.

        He was fired last year.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      I can’t remember if I was saying this in 2012 or into that off-season after LaRoche didn’t take his QO that the Nats could’ve made a run for Stanton and moved JWerth to 1st base.

      Other than Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, Stanton is the position player I would covet after them. I think now the ship has sailed. Where do you put him? RZim is going to 1st base in 2015 and Stanton can’t play 2nd base unless you are suggesting Werth to LF and Bryce to CF and Rizzo doesn’t want to do that.

      • letswin3 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        I was on that Werth to first bandwagon too … but it was when I wanted to go get Choo. Werth would have been a great fit, but, as you suggest, that ship has sailed.

  3. jd - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Stanton will be the big fish(pardon the pun) on the market in the next year or so. If it’s a question of money you know the Yankees and Dodgers will be at the front of the line (neither may have the pieces to pull that off). Texas and St.Louis are prospect rich. The Nats would have to pretty much empty the cupboards to be in the conversation and Giolito may become very special in a few years so I don’t think there’s a match.

    Look out for the Mets and the Cubs too.

  4. Section 222 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Apparently Stras’s command is a problem with all his pitches. Ghost will enjoy this post with those nifty plots of pitch location.

    http://natsbaseball.blogspot.com/2014/04/what-samatta-with-strasburg.html

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Thanks for posting that up. Strasburg’s problem in my opinion in his last start was location and movement on his fastball and breaking pitches. On Opening Day was location. Because his fastball isn’t sizzling any more he can’t afford to throw it in the wrong location and with lack of movement.

      Now that we know what the problem is, how do you fix it? Is it high humidity as Laddie believes? Is it lack of focus as some believe? Is it poor preperation? Is it problem with mechanics?

  5. NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Speaking of ownage,

  6. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Stanton in my view is the most dominate hitter in the game. Imagine how many more losses Miami would have had last season as well as this current one without him in their lineup. If nats somehow landed him, wow!!!

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      Stanton in my view is the most dominate hitter in the game.

      He’s hitting .299 — fifth on his team. If if he can keep it that high, it’d be his career best. His lifetime BA is .267

      That is not the most dominant hitter in the game.

  7. npb99 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Where would the Nats play Stanton? He can’t be a CF. LF and RF are taken by Harper and Werth for years to come. 1B? I thought that was reserved for RZ (not my choice, but that seems to be inevitable).

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      I beat you by a minute with the same thoughts. There is no place to play Stanton logically.

      As of right now, there will be 4 main spots for next year:

      1. CF if Span’s option isn’t picked up
      2. Closer
      3. 2B if Espinosa doesn’t seal up the spot this season for next season
      4. 5th starter always seems to be the spot up for grabs.

      There’s no spots I can see for Stanton this year or next year.

  8. bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I think Bob and FP have given people an inflated sense of Stanton’s worth. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche both have better offensive slash lines and wOBAs than Stanton this season, and Jayson Werth is pretty close. Last year Werth and Harper were both better than Stanton.

    He’s very good but I’m not even sure he’s one of the 15 or 20 best hitters in the game.

    • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      I agree with your points on stanton, although could one play werth in LF, Bryce in Center and stanton in RF if span did not come back.

      Stanton is just the one hitter i always get nervous about more than any others in the NL when nats play against him. I just think he could become a very special player down the road

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      +1

      Yeah, he’s beat us a couple times. But at .299 he’s not the leader in BA, OBP, or SLG on his own team. Granted, he does seem to kill the Nats (career he’s .307/.398/.674 against the Nats), but like bowdenball said, he’s not HoF material. He hit .249 last year, his lifetime BA is .267, and he averages over 140 K’s per year.

      On the other, other hand, the kid, in his 5th full MLB season, is only 24!

      • letswin3 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        Well, most clubs are going to pitch around him, as long as he’s a fish. If he had any kind of protection his numbers would all be elevated.

  9. unterp - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    How can Strasburg turn it around?
    stop giving up runs in the first inning…

    • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      I decided to check some stats, to back you up, and — lo and behold — what did I find?

      Stras: first time through the order, opponents batted .217
      2d time through the order .218
      3rd time through the order .229

      Those are career numbers.

      For this year, the numbers are: .333/.241/.250

      And therefore, I suspect, given his career numbers, he’ll get it together.

      • letswin3 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        Can you expand that review to compare hot temperature months with cooler months?

      • adcwonk - Apr 18, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        actually — I did a quick look. April is his second worst month. He did better in May and Hall of Fame stuff for June, August and September.

        But his worst month was July. Perhaps one or two particularly bad outings? I dunno.

        WHIP:

        Mar/April .231
        May .224
        June .205
        July .243
        Aug .205
        Sept/Oct ..198

      • letswin3 - Apr 18, 2014 at 5:22 PM

        Thanks, Wonk. That also helps to put things in perspective for these first couple of starts. We can expect him to improve dramatically when it warms up.

  10. micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    also, and I know its all hypothetical, but if ramos got over the injury bug, imagine him in the same lineup with stanton, that would be fun to watch

  11. bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    We’re not getting Stanton. You might as well fantasize about this lineup with Babe Ruth, it’s almost as likely. We don’t have the farm assets to outbid others, especially considering that if anyone else came close to our bid the Marlins would be better off dealing him out of the division. And it would be a waste to trade those assets for someone who plays a position where the Nats are pretty well taken care of for the foreseeable future anyway. Better to keep the prospects in our system and save the money for extensions for our own young stars.

    • micksback1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      I like the idea of getting him out of the division, i would prefer the NL since Nats will not pursue him. Your correct and I was just thinking about 5 guys in a lineup who could hit 35-40 HR

      speaking of prospects, what is going on with Billy Goodwin? is he a good prospect or not?

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        I don’t think it’s my idea, I assume it’s the Marlins preferring course of action if they can’t extend him.

        Brian Goodwin? Not sure. It’s a make or break year for him and its too early to tell what kind of season he’s having. I like his approach at the plate. If he shows he can be at least mediocre against lefties this year and can defend the position well he can step into Span’s shoes. Doubt he’ll ever be more than that, though.

  12. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Nats send Treinen down to activate X-man Cedeno who will probably be sent back for Aaron Barrett next week when he is eligible to come back.

  13. 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    The problem with Strasburg is obvious. He just isn’t a very good pitcher. On any given day, if all his cylinders are firing perfectly he’s dominant. But if they’re not, he can’t make the adjustment and do what it takes to win the game. Relying on Strasburg now is like a NASCAR owner relying on the perfect tuneup and the fastest pit crew to win the race, when what he needs is the best driver. If you could somehow put the mind of Livan Hernandez on the body of Strasburg, you’d have a pitcher deserving of all the hype spewed on Strasburg. He needs to wise up like Zimmermann did and realize it’s not all about perfecting his craft. So far, though, he shows no signs of being willing or able to do that.

    • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:09 PM

      2010: 12 starts, 5.41 K/BB ratio, 1.07 WHIP, 2.91 ERA, 2.08 FIP.

      2012: 28 starts, 4.10 K/BB ratio, 1.15 WHIP, 3.16 ERA, 2.82 FIP

      2013: 30 starts, 3.41 K/BB ratio, 1.05 WHIP, 3.00 ERA, 3.21 FIP

      2014: 4 starts, 3.67 K/BB ratio, 1.57 WHIP, 6.00 ERA, 3.19 FIP

      Yeah, you’re right. Not a very good pitcher. I’m sure his 2014 WHIP and ERA are the new normal, not just blips caused by small sample size and bad defense given that every other number up there has been consistently elite over 3+ seasons.

      • alexva6 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:31 PM

        why is my troll alarm going off right now?

      • 6ID20 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Being a good pitcher is not about throwing up elite numbers. It’s about what you do when thing(s) are not working perfectly. Can you make the adjustment to do enough to remain competitive, or do you fall apart? Strasburg has yet to show that he can make the adjustment. He’s all or nothing. That’s not a characteristic of a good pitcher.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        You want to know what’s wrong with Strasburg this year? He’s been unlucky in his four starts. Strasburg’s career batting average allowed on balls in play: .297. Which is almost exactly the major league average (.296). His BABIP has generally floated around .297, as one would expect from the term “average.”

        2010: .323 (12 starts)
        2011: .246 (5 starts)
        2012: .316 (28 starts)
        2013: .266 (30 starts)
        2014: .412 (4 starts)

        As that BABIP regresses by 100 points or so, Strasburg’s numbers will revert to more Strasburgian levels.

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        “Being a good pitcher is not about throwing up elite numbers. It’s about what you do when thing(s) are not working perfectly. Can you make the adjustment to do enough to remain competitive, or do you fall apart? Strasburg has yet to show that he can make the adjustment. He’s all or nothing. That’s not a characteristic of a good pitcher.”

        Strasburg had only two starts where he allowed more than 4 earned runs in 2013. That’s three fewer than both Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, who both had five 5+ earned run meltdowns.

        Seems to me that when things are not working perfectly he makes adjustments to remain competitive better than anyone else on the team.

      • bowdenball - Apr 18, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        My mistake- Strasburg had three such starts in 2013, two fewer than Zimmermann and Gonzalez.

  14. NatsLady - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    While you are watching the Cubs game (or not), you can enjoy this funny Bo Porter video.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/04/18/bo-porter-to-his-blundering-baserunner-do-you-think-youre-invisible/

  15. mrnat7 - Apr 18, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    The problem with Strasburg is the pitching coach (Cat) and him wanting Stras to pitch to contact. Thank goodness (Zuckerman) you finally saw the light and made the call. Strasburg is a power pitcher, like Nolan Ryan. Cat is going to ruin Strasburg ‘s career! Strasburg should be attacking hitters and not pitching to contact! The more he throws his fast ball his velocity and his control will improve. He’ll be able to hit his spots better when moving the FB around. Stras has so many pitches now he can’t spend enough time on his FB. With 5 pitches he can only spend 20% on each pitch. With the FB, change and breaking pitches he will be spending 33 % on each pitch. If I were Strasburg, I couldn’t wait to become a free agent and get away from this mentality!

    Also, we are going to kill our Bull Pen! You don’t have to be a copy cat and pitch Stormn, Clippard and Sorenio one inning a piece. When you bring in Stormn in the 7th and he has a good inning they should let him pitch the 8th and maybe the 9th. The next night follow the same suit with Clippard and etc. It’s more taxing (on your arm) to warm up four- five days in a row just to pitch one inning. (Can’t we thank outside the box) Also, is it in Sorenio”s contract that he only pitches the 9th when we have a 3 run lead or less (so he can get saves)? It’s a joke to see two people warming up in the 9th and waiting to see if we have a three or four run lead!

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