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Alarming stretch has Strasburg searching for answers

May 13, 2015, 2:49 AM EDT

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PHOENIX — Stephen Strasburg has never pitched like this, not for a somewhat-prolonged stretch. At least not since he came into anyone’s consciousness outside of his hometown of San Diego.

Not in three seasons of college. Not in his two months in the minors. Not since he made his major-league debut nearly five years ago.

The numbers, in the wake of a 14-6 thrashing at the hands of the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, have become alarming. Strasburg’s 6.06 ERA ranks 106th out of 112 qualified major-league starters. His .327 opponents’ batting average ranks 110th. His 1.71 WHIP ranks 111th.

And neither Strasburg nor the Nationals seem to have a firm grasp how to solve the problem.

“I’m just embarrassed I let the team down,” the right-hander said after giving up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings Tuesday night at Chase Field. “It sucks. I’m just trying to go out there and help this team win some games. I didn’t do that tonight.”

Once among the most-feared pitchers in the game, Strasburg brought zero intimidation factor to the mound with him in this start. The Diamondbacks hammered him from the get-go, with eight of the 20 batters he faced recording hits, four of them for extra bases, two of them clearing the fence.

His velocity — his fastball averaged 96 mph and topped out at 98 mph — wasn’t the problem. But his command certainly was, with six of the eight hits he surrendered coming on pitches in the upper half of the strike zone.

“I left a lot of pitches up,” he said. “I didn’t hit a spot. They’re a good-hitting team. I’ve got to do better.”

And so the obvious questions that were raised after this outing were about Strasburg’s mechanics, whether he feels 100 percent healthy and whether those two things could be related. Seven days removed from another abbreviated start in which he complained of discomfort underneath his shoulder blade, requiring a chiropractic adjustment, Strasburg’s performance was no better.

Matt Williams insisted health was not an issue.

“The concern coming out of the last one was his health,” the manager said. “And I think he passed that one, which is good.”

Strasburg was less definitive when asked if his back felt fine during Tuesday’s game.

“Yeah, it’s good enough,” he said.

Whether health or mechanics are part of the equation right now or not, Strasburg’s batterymate believes there’s a more fundamental reason for the right-hander’s struggles.

“I think he’s thinking too much,” catcher Wilson Ramos said. “In this game, when you’re thinking too much, it’s hard to do everything right. It’s like, for example, a hitter. When a hitter’s going to the plate and thinking too much, you’re not going to hit the ball well. It happens, too, with a pitcher. He has to go out there and fight and try to do the best he can. You can’t go out and think too much. I think that’s what’s happening with him right now.”

Ramos was hopeful when Strasburg took the mound on Tuesday, excited about the way he threw warming up in the bullpen — “Today is probably going to be a good game,” he thought to himself — but then surprised when none of that carried over.

“I don’t know what was happening with him,” the catcher said. “It was really different on the mound from the bullpen.”

With Strasburg’s fastball command off, his curveball flat and his changeup ineffective, Ramos resorted to calling nine sliders, a pitch Strasburg rarely throws to begin with. That worked briefly but then backfired when Mark Trumbo destroyed the right-hander’s final pitch of the night (an 89 mph slider) to left for a 3-run homer.

Williams trudged out of the dugout to take the ball from his starter, and Strasburg trudged back to the clubhouse. His pitching stats place him squarely near the bottom of the sport for the first time in his career, and now he must find some way to get himself back on track.

“Just keep my head down, keep working hard, keep battling, keep fighting,” he said.

“I just know that he’s got great stuff,” Williams added. “His stuff will show itself in the end. We’ve got all the confidence in the world in him. It hasn’t been his best stretch, but he’s a competitor.”

  1. laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 5:13 AM

    Plenty of time to turn it around, but his confidence took a hit last night. The offense gave him more than enough support to win. He was reaching for his lower back, so there may still be some physical issue.

  2. pchuck69 - May 13, 2015 at 5:33 AM

    >>“Yeah, it’s good enough,” he said.

    This is almost a contemptible response. He won’t either say he’s healthy or that he’s injured. It’s the worst of both worlds.

    • Hiram Hover - May 13, 2015 at 8:45 AM

      Contempt for whom, or what? I think the point is these guys play with minor aches and pains much of the time.

      • pchuck69 - May 13, 2015 at 8:51 AM

        Perhaps Strasburg can’t play with minor injuries and ailments or, at least, can’t play well with them.

      • bowdenball - May 13, 2015 at 9:10 AM

        You didn’t answer HH’s question. Why did you describe his reponse as “contemptible”? To whom was he showing contempt?

      • pchuck69 - May 13, 2015 at 9:17 AM

        It’s contemptible in its passive aggressiveness. His obfuscation is very unhelpful.

      • Hiram Hover - May 13, 2015 at 9:55 AM

        So, he says the back feels “good enough”–in other words, that it is not an excuse for how he performed. And your conclusion is … that he really means the exact opposite of what he said.

        Now remind me – who is expressing contempt for whom here?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:16 AM

        I think it depends on who he’s telling what. If he’s telling the media, or by extension the fans, some BS, that’s one thing. If he’s less than candid with his coaches and trainers and doctors, that’s very different.

    • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 1:00 PM

      Contemptible? Really?

  3. laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 7:01 AM

    Chris Sale was off to a terrible start to the season and turned it around just yesterday. SS hit 98 last night, but he left his FB up, and his other pitches weren’t working for him.

    Maybe CRob can give him some tips on how to grip and throw in dry weather…;o)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 7:31 AM

      “Ghost of Steve M. – May 12, 2015 at 10:58 PM
      How long do you stick with Stras tonight? 2 poor pitch sequences in a row.”

      I wrote the above at the start of the 4th inning. The Nats were only behind 3-1 and Stras had the bottom of the order coming up. Stras had nothing as you could see on a slider that did nothing and Owings hit it like it was on a tee, and I asked the question after Owings hit and before the DBacks scored “HOW LONG”.

      MW was at that tough crossroads in a decision of what to do. Nobody was warming in the pen. Stras flat out melted down and was missing spots and all of his pitches were flat including his breaking pitch. Do you yank Stras now for the sake of the team or allow him to self-destruct because his own ego can’t handle getting yanked before he has the chance to work out of his own mess. His own fielding error kind of was the icing on the cake as the pitcher bunted right back to Stras and he dropped the ball……

      You could tell right away from the beginning of the game that he didn’t have his best stuff and the great ones get by and through it when they don’t have their best stuff. Strasburg couldn’t overcome.

      • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:16 AM

        “Strasburg couldn’t overcome.”

        No, he couldn’t.

        They have Roark. It it were I, I’d put him on the DL and send him to Florida so his ankle could “heal,” and then rehab his mechanics and his ego.

      • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:19 AM

        The Nats have options if they DL Stras. I wouldnt be suprized at all.

      • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:24 AM

        MW needed 5 innings out of Strasburg. Like you said, he couldnt get out of the bottom of there ordor in the 4th inning.

  4. slidell2 - May 13, 2015 at 7:16 AM

    On May 5, he only allowed 2 runs, but everything that was hit was a rocket.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 7:33 AM

      BABIP. If Owings hit that liner right to an outfielder, Stras probably gets through the 4th inning. That’s how some pitchers that don’t have their best stuff get through it.

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 12:47 PM

        IIRC, in the first inning Ramos dropped a foul tip on what would have been strike three, and there would have been no runs that inning.

        Am I remembering right? (I was in the car listening on the radio when it happened)

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 1:20 PM

        Could have been. No recollection and too lazy to go back and look at that train wreck.

  5. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 7:35 AM

    Haren finally imploded. He pitched 4 1/3 giving up 6 runs and he pitched in Los Angeles where we’ve been led to believe he pitches so well 😉

  6. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    You have to wonder if Rizzo puts Strasburg on the DL and moves Roark back to the rotation and activates Jannsen.

    • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      LOL. I just posted that same thought, above, sans Janssen.

      • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:20 AM

        I think you guys are right. Stras needs time away to heal, get away from the bright lights and be ready to come back and dominate.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 8:26 AM

        Good minds laddie! Don’t you owe me a virtual drink 😉

      • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:41 AM

        “Good minds laddie! Don’t you owe me a virtual drink.”

        You need to lay off that virtual stuff! Much too much of that, lately. Hat tip, instead.

    • sec105rowwseat28 - May 13, 2015 at 9:25 AM

      They can’t put Roark into the rotation at this point. He’s not stretched out enough to be a starter. They’d have to bring someone up to take a couple of Strasburg’s starts while they attempted to stretch Roark out. They could also send Roark down to Syracuse until he’s ready to go 6 innings plus.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:29 AM

        If he throws 3 innings today with the off-day on Monday they could get him in and cap him at 75 to 80 pitches.

        They can figure it out if that’s how they choose to go.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - May 13, 2015 at 7:43 AM

    Excuses, excuses. “Thinking too much” may be the lamest. Pitching is Zen. The mind has to dictate what the body does. Even if “muscle memory” could imprint perfect mechanics, pitchers don’t get enough work between starts to rehabilitate and rebuild bad mechanics. Unlike a golfer, who can spend hours on the driving range, or play 2-3 practice rounds between tournaments, a pitcher gets a brief “bullpen” and a couple of days of “long toss” between starts with the primary aim being to keep muscles stretched out. If the pitcher can’t deconstruct his mechanics for every pitch and put them back together, a long, ugly season looms ahead. If this is related to the sprained ankle, then the only solution that occurs to me is to put him on the DL for a couple of weeks and send him to Harrisburg for a couple of rehab starts. That’s the charitable outlook. Less charitable: he needs to think more not less.

    • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      Yes, the DL idea has been floated above and is just 1 option.

    • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      He might be better off in Florida working on those mechanics, first, then the rehab starts in Harrisburg, later. He does not seem comfortable – he bailed out towards 1b on multiple follow-throughs, and he had the look of a guy who had lost confidence in his ability to pitch.

      Normally, he does his best in the dry, warm climate of the far SW, where the climate most resembles the place where he grew up and became the best pitcher on the planet, San Diego. Maybe the Nats give him another shot in San Diego this weekend. If he can’t succeed there, then he can’t succeed anywhere.

  8. micksback1 - May 13, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    I have no problem with the loss at all, I expected nats to lose at least one, jet lag, etc..

    The issue is Stras, I have never been a huge Stras fan since about 2013. Being a strike out guy does not make you a winner or a great pitcher and so many fans obsess over that. I think he is a head case, a selfish player and in to only himself. Nats need to deal him why they can and get some decent value. There is plenty of young talent that will keep the Nats pitching core great for years to come.

    I am sure the yahoos in here are going jump on him as a hater, of course you won’t acknowledge the fact that I post the Nats have a lot of young talent that will keep them good for years to come

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      “Being a strike out guy does not make you a winner or a great pitcher and so many fans obsess over that.”

      Sure, the big heater and velo sells tickets. Strikeouts have their key spots like when a runner is at 3rd base.

      BABIP is going to work to the advantage of the pitcher but strikeouts neutralize BABIP. I tend to appreciate the pitchers like JZim because he gets his Ks when he needs them and with bases empty he’s more concerned about quality strikes and weak contact based on late life on his pitches.

    • bowdenball - May 13, 2015 at 9:20 AM

      Here’s a list, in order, of the Top 10 qualfied starters in terms of K% in 2014:

      Clayton Kershaw (NL Cy Young, MVP)
      Chris Sale
      Corey Kluber (AL Cy Young)
      Max Scherzer
      Stephen Strasburg
      Felix Hernandez
      David Price
      Francisco Liriano
      Zach Greinke
      Johnny Cueto

      Five of them are in the Top 9 in wins, including 3 of the top 4. All but Liriano had a winning record. And all but Cueto pitched for teams with winning records.

      So tell me again how being a strikeout guy doesn’t make you a winner or a great pitcher and fans are wrong to obsess over it?

      As for trading him: ever heard the expression “buy high, sell low”? Me neither. There’s a reason for that.

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 12:50 PM

        BB, you raise a good point, which Ghost was kinda getting at.

        The point is this: when you strike a guy out, there’s no BABIP luck involved at all. And that’s why that while K’s are not the only thing, they are extremely helpful.

        And, BB — great list you compiled there!!

    • raleighnat - May 13, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      I don’t necessarily have issue with anything you said except your calling him a selfish player. I think he’s a good guy trying his best. Just seems to struggle with the mental side of things.

      • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        When fans are frustrated with a player’s performance we tend to read all kinds of negative things into every twitch, smile or frown that a player shows. And then savage the player for those things that we perceive. It’s a nifty straw man sort of thing – assume the player is selfish, weak, etc., then savage them as if our assumption is correct.

        It’s not the best side of fandom.

        Strasburg is scuffling right now, no mistake. His command is off and he’s getting hit hard. For me it has seemed that he hasn’t been able to really find his changeup so far this year. The fastball gets the press, but since he came back from TJ Strasburg’s changeup has always been his difference-maker, his out pitch. It not only is his best swing-and-miss pitch, it makes his fastball very difficult to deal with.

        It’s because the velocity is still there that I would stick with him for a while. There’s no way of knowing when/if he finds that changeup again, but I like his chances – it’s always been a devastating part of his arsenal. And if he has that changeup, he’s a top 20 pitcher.

  9. micksback1 - May 13, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    Escobar has been a great addition!!!

  10. Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    “I just know that he’s got great stuff,” Williams added. “His stuff will show itself in the end. We’ve got all the confidence in the world in him. It hasn’t been his best stretch, but he’s a competitor.”

    At least at this point, I agree with Williams. I honestly don’t think that Stephen Strasburg was just a flash in pan.

  11. Guapo - May 13, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    Strasburg won’t ever be dominant at the major league level. He’s not deceptive enough. Too much tape on him now around the league. Classic case of a guy with good stuff and 95+ who can dominate at all levels leading up to the bigs. But you need something extra to keep MLB hitters off balance in the long run. Strasbust doesn’t have it. Let’s hope he rides out his contract here as a solid 4/5 starter or Rizzo finds a home for him elsehwere. Maybe a move to the AL with hitters who haven’t seen him a lot before could help him get a fresh start.

    • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:25 AM

      “Strasburg won’t ever be dominant at the major league level.”

      Thats just ridiculous. He has dominated many games. His problem is consistency.

      • Guapo - May 13, 2015 at 8:28 AM

        Sure, he’s had games where he’s been lights out. I’m talking about long term, consistent, top of the rotation type dominance. That’s what everyone in the Nats org expected from him, but its not materialized. Good thing Rizzo sat him down in ’12. Really paying off for the team now.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 8:28 AM

        I agree with you, 128.

      • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 1:10 PM

        Are you really going to slam the pitcher for not being a difference maker and slam the organization for not sticking with a pitcher who is not a difference maker – in the same paragraph? That is some spiffy commentary jiu jitsu right there, Guapo.

    • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      He didn’t have his change and he didn’t have his curve last night, and he didn’t have command of his FB. You can’t deceive anyone when you throw the FB waist-high and in the zone nearly every pitch, and then groove a weak slider as your only alternative offering. He didn’t have it, at all, last night. The DBacks were just sitting on that FB.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 8:35 AM

        That sums it up. He couldnt even locate his fastball.

    • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 12:52 PM

      Strasburg won’t ever be dominant at the major league level. He’s not deceptive enough.

      Ridiculous. He’s got a number of pitches.

      The problem is that he’s inconsistent with them. When they are working, he’s lights out and he has been, and certainly can be again, dominant.

      The question is can he regain his ability to throw his pitches well consistently. That’s been the problem.

  12. nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    The Clint Robinson inning as a reliever was fun to see. K/9 is 9. WHIP is 1.000 ERA is 0.00 BA Against .250

    • laddieblahblah - May 13, 2015 at 8:44 AM

      Yeah. Did you see him in the dugout comparing notes with Scherzer, afterwards? Priceless!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:38 AM

        I missed that!

      • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 9:49 AM

        Need that video!

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:13 AM

        That was great. I am even more impressed with Scherzer’s leadership than I was before. He was treating this guy as a peer — because for one inning, he was.

  13. Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    Yogi Berra said it best:

    “ninety percent of this game is half mental.”

    Happy 90th birthday to Yogi!

  14. pchuck69 - May 13, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    Drew Storen was sent to Syracuse, remember.

  15. Theophilus T.S. - May 13, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    I think one of the underlying problems w/ Strasburg is that Nats management keeps looking at his exit door. Stung by Zimmermann’s refusal to even engage in negotiations, the front office is un-nerved by the prospect that Strasburg will take a hike 365 days later. For reasons that appear to be losing their validity and vitality, they really hope that Boras will allow Strasburg to sign an extension and spare the Nats the possibility/likelihood of rebuilding 60 percent of their starting rotation over the course of little more than a year. Hence there is no chance they will send Strasburg to Viera, Harrisburg or any other place to rehab various body parts and rebuild his psyche. Storen was younger, less “established” and, as a reliever, ultimately expendable — a different case entirely. If Storen objected to going to Syracuse he could lump it. Fantasies about retaining Strasburg stand in the way of dealing effectively with his shortcomings.

    Boras will choose free agency even if Strasburg’s career — which hasn’t ascended since his first start in the major leagues — hasn’t justified a nine-figure contract. Some idiot GM (San Diego’s, or Boston’s or NYY’s, among other possibilities) will make an outrageous bid and Strasburg will depart after eight seasons, with the Nats failing to recoup the gazillions invested in his development.

    The notion of a “good relationship” with Boras is magical thinking. He takes the Nats’ money but there is no quo.

    • Karl Kolchak - May 13, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      “…with the Nats failing to recoup the gazillions invested in his development.”

      Oh, I dunno…the Nats made PLENTY of money back in 2010 from all the extra fans who showed up to see SS pitch, not to mention that without him they likely would not have won the division in 2012. He’s given the Nats plenty of value; he just hasn’t been the superstar everyone thought he was going to be.

  16. jd - May 13, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    In fairness last night’s performance is just a culmination of an alarming trend. Stras’s problem almost since day 1 is that while he has always been an elite strike out pitcher he has never been able to induce weak contact. His line drive given up ratio has always been right up with the league leaders so when he doesn’t strike people out he generally gets hit hard.

    For a pitcher with his tools this is very puzzling and I blame the pitching coach to a large extent.

    I am against using the DL for a player who is not hurt. As I said if the trend wasn’t there before I’d believe there’s an injury here I think the problem is more symptomatic.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:35 AM

      How do you know he’s not hurt? His ankle, his lower back, his shoulder? Nobody is suggesting a phantom injury DL here.

      • jd - May 13, 2015 at 9:46 AM


        That’s my point. If he’s injured he should go on the DL if not he shouldn’t. How do you know he’s injured?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:02 AM

        Stras was grabbing his lower back and just wasn’t getting hip rotation. After the game Johnny Holliday said he was finishing awkwardly on his left foot and he thought the ankle still isn’t healed.

        I’m guessing along with the Price Is Right audience.

        If he’s injured, get him on the DL and 100%. If he’s not injured, he’s going to have to work it out on the mound.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:36 AM

      “For a pitcher with his tools this is very puzzling and I blame the pitching coach to a large extent.”

      Can you explain that one please?

      • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:45 AM

        Last tear I could see SS fly open all the time, his pitches when he did that were always high and to the right.

        Things like that McCatty can fix.

        If it a physical ailment the coach can do nothing.

        If us mental, I believe the coach can work magic, or be a total bust, it can go either way depending on the pitcher’s reception of advise.

        My problem with SS is that he seems not any more emotional in control now than June 2010.

        Being 5 years older he should be 4 years mentally tougher, and my perception is he is not.

      • jd - May 13, 2015 at 9:52 AM

        I never felt that pitchers under Mc.Catty have gotten substantially better. I think he has the most talented stable of starters in the majors and I don’t see him getting the most out of it. In the Expos glory years Joe Kerrigan was the pitching coach and every time the Spos acquired a pitcher they performed better than they have before. Pitchers such as Ken Hill, Pascual Perez, Carlos Perez, Kirk Ruiter, Jeff Fassero and Butch Henry shone under Kerrigan, I am not even mentioning Pedro Martinez who came to Montreal as a raw talent and left as a Cy Young winner.

        Are you seeing such results in DC? I’m not.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:00 AM

        You need teachable talent. JZim has been his prototype and has been his success story. Scherzer came here as a star. Fister had a great year last year.

        I’ve always felt that Stras and Gio do their own thing.

        I think it’s a mixed bag of results. Goes back to the aged old question, is it the teacher or the student?

    • jfmii - May 13, 2015 at 9:48 AM

      You are getting way out in front here. If he doesn’t turn this around, there won’t be any mega-contracts to talk about. He grabbed his lower back in the fourth inning–the ankle injury has knocked him all out of whack. DL, rehab, get the mechanics back on track. If he has one more poor start, that is where it should go. It was disheartening watching him last night. His curve and slider are usually sharp and nasty. Last night…not so much. And there may be, on his part, some residual push back from the 2012 shutting down. I know I’m going down speculation lane here, but I think he doesn’t want to come across as the fragile diva–thus he is pitching through physical discomfort that could make things worse.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:51 AM

        He had basically abandoned the slider, so its reappearance was a red flag.

        His change up and curve are the killers and pitched neither very often last night.

  17. manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    Two words can cure Strasburg in a heartbeat. Location and movement.

    When he has neither last night occurs. When he has both he is kightsout.

    When he has one, then we get a good but nit great SS.

    Question is mire importantly, why does he fluctuate so much? If he pitch like last night all the time he would be easy to live with it. You would dump him. However, we have seen the light out SS enough to know he can do.

    Rizzo, MW, and McCatty are paid their bucks to determine why something happens and to fix it.

  18. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Some of these comments are going to the bizarre. As Mark Twain said, “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.

    Those who want to put a fork in Strasburg and call him cooked are being overly dramatic. He didn’t all of a sudden forget how to pitch.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      I think once he gets his location and good movement back, he will be fine again.

      How can one just lose it?

    • bowdenball - May 13, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Great post.

      Even weirder are the people who are now revising history and arguing that he was never very good to begin with. He’s been one of the 20 or so best starting pitchers in baseball for the entirety of his career with the Nationals prior to this season.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:54 AM

        In 2014 he was strong, but this year he is nit even pitching as well as 2010. When one regresses and still fairly young, there usually a reason.

        The question is what is the reason?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:56 AM

        Of course. In the large picture he’s been an excellent top 20 pitcher like you said just not the Top 5 like everyone has wanted him to be.

        I’ve seen 2 issues in his career so far which is consistency and his own meltdowns after a botched play and even those get magnified too much.

        The braintrust has to figure out if there is an injury and rest him to 100% and then get him going or declare him 100% and then redo the mechanics.

        He had nothing working last night for more than a handful of pitches which is what concerns me.

      • jd - May 13, 2015 at 9:57 AM


        I don’t know who you are referring to specifically. your point is correct (top 20) but his talent is top 5 and therein lies the problem. You also can’t deny the fact that when STras gets hit he gets hit hard. That’s not BABIP, the line drive ratio is off the charts high. There are rarely any popups or weak grounders.

      • Hiram Hover - May 13, 2015 at 10:02 AM


        I’m not sure I agree with the “top 5 talent but only top 20 results” part, but even granting it for the sake of argument–top 20 is still pretty fricking bueno. There are too many people here (and I don’t mean you) who seem to think that top 20 in MLB makes him a #4-5 starter at best. That’s just silly.

      • bowdenball - May 13, 2015 at 10:56 AM

        Who says his talent is Top 5? Scouts in 2010?

        If you have a pitcher on your team who has been one of the 20 best in baseball and you call him a disappointment- for ANY reason- you’re doing it wrong. Scouting reports and media hype are not Strasburg’s fault.

        As for who I was talking to- read through the previous comments. There are people on here calling him a 4/5 starter, saying he’s not a winner, calling him a head case, recommending that he be traded. Why? Because he’s having a rough year? Because he’s been merely outstanding for pretty much his entire Nats career rather than some mythical superhero they fantasized about when they read the scouting reports on him?

      • Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        From bowdenball @ 10:56 AM: Best line of the day, in my opinion:

        Scouting reports and media hype are not Strasburg’s fault.</b.

    • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 9:51 AM

      Not a political fan but Obama redoing the famous Twain quote to “The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated” is perfect for this situation.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:57 AM

        That’s perfect. Only Strasburg can prove his critics wrong.

    • Hiram Hover - May 13, 2015 at 9:59 AM


  19. manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    1 quality start in 7 starts is not good.

    On the other hand Gio’s start especially the last 3 or 4 have been more like 2012. Let’s rake one kike that today.

    • Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      Yeah, and a year ago many on here had given up on Gio. Hell, a month ago many had given up on Gio.

  20. raleighnat - May 13, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    I think Stras is a great guy and a wonderful talent. I guess I’ve struggled enough with golf – repeating your swing, short putts, etc. – to know what happens when you think too much. I think that’s his problem as Ramos said. I think he tenses up and that causes his mechanics to get all out of wack. But ultimately I really don’t know.

    One thing I remember is all of the pitch to contact talk I heard when he was early in his career. I wonder if somehow he’s been taught to be something that he’s not. I know the theory of dialing back and pitching more to contact is to keep pitch counts down and keep him healthy. I just wonder if all of this has gotten into his head. Wonder what would happen if someone said to him “strike everyone out and don’t worry about pitch counts”. Probably dumb idea…I’m reaching for answers.

  21. chaz11963 - May 13, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    The reality is Strasburg is pitching much worse right now than he has ever pitched. You can argue it’s movement or location or both. Even if it is one or the other or both, I think it still is most likely due to injury.

    It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him put on the DL. They did the same with Gio, Haren, and ZNN. If that happens, the Nats “GREAT” pitching will certainly take a hit, even if Roark is moved to the rotation. You got to wonder how many wins that takes away, because even though Roark is good, he’s not SS.

  22. slidell2 - May 13, 2015 at 11:53 AM

    Stras’s remark that his back feels “good enough” should not be a concern. The man at that moment was surely mad as h . . l, and probably more than a bit worried as to what was going on.

  23. lowstrikes - May 13, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    I’m enjoying the speculation and hypothesizing, if not SS’s performance issues. The current chapter of the story makes for a pretty compelling season – unanticipated heroes (Escobar), villains (Simmons), redemption (Espinosa) hopes dashed and rewarded (Strasburg/Harper, Sherzer, Ramos, Zim, Fister, Gio, Roark), puzzles (Desmond, JZim), the promise of drama to come (Werth, Rendon), and plenty of reasons to keep the faith. What a treat to have a team with so much potential, and so many instances in which they approach fully realizing it. I look forward to every game! That’s great baseball.

    …long “hopes rewarded” roster, there.

    Anyway, we now return you to today’s feature presentation of Hair On Fire Theater!

    Enjoy the game!





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

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