Sunday, June 13, 2010

To Keep Him In or Take Him Out

Stephen Strasburg made his anticipated second start in front of 32,876 spectators including Indians legend and Hall of Famer Bob Feller (I'll get back to him in a bit). The second time around resulted in a victory as with the first, leaving Strasberg 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched. Stasburg has struck out 22 while only walking 5. The line looks good but I have a little issue with how Strasburg is being handled.

Let me paint you a scene (as the artist that I am, LOL). Your young rookie pitcher is on the mound with 1 out in the bottom of the 6th, he loads up the bases with a walk, the 2nd walk of the inning and 5th walk of the game. Moment of truth for you as the manager: Do you keep him in to see what he's made of or do you take him out. Well, in the case of Strasburg, Nats manager Jim Riggleman adheres to the company rules regarding Strasburg and pulls him out with 91 pitches thrown.

I guess its a pressure situation that some pitchers get taken out of the game. But you know what, leave the kid in and let's see what he's made of. What's the worst that can happen, OMG...A Grand Slam? Strasburg wouldn't be the first pitcher to give up a Grand Slam and survive. It won't always be easy for him so why not let him test his mettle in the fire. But don't blame Riggleman for it. It is how the system is being run for pitchers these days. Nolan Ryan may be the only administrator who is trying to rebuild starters from what they've become: 6 inning quality pitchers. Ryan must have been shaking his head when Strasburg was taken out.

So while Strasburg was in the midst of walking the 5 batters, he complained about the mound at the Jake (sorry folks, hate to call Jacobs Field Progressive Field in the same manner I refuse to call Comiskey Park anything but Comiskey Park) requiring 2 trips by the field crew. At the point that Strasburg was removed, he was extremely frustrated. Was it with the mound or was it his performance? Maybe he should have stayed in to work through the frustration, for good or bad. Just saying folks.

Getting back to Hall of Famer Bob Feller. As I stated earlier, Feller was in attendance at the game and made some comments towards Strasburg and the mound. As the season progresses, there will undoubtedly be some comparisons between Feller and Strasburg. Feller came up as a fireballer at the age of 19 with the Indians in 1936 and finished with a 266-162 record with a 3.25 ERA and 2581 strikeouts. So when asked about Strasburg, Feller commented that:

He (referring to himself) asked the grounds crew to repair the mound maybe one or twice in his career, never in mid-inning, and suggested that Strasburg, "Should bring a bucket of clay with him (to the mound).He also said "Call me when he wins his first 100,"

Ah, you've got to love the old school players. LOL. But Feller was also complimentary towards Strasburg by saying that:

"He has a good career coming up," Feller said. "I understand he's very affable, but very quiet and is very conscientious. He'll be probably tougher for right-hand hitters than left-hand hitters. He loses about two or three miles per hour on his fastball with men on base, I noticed that on the radar. But that's typical. That's not unusual at all." Feller also said that "[Strasburg] has a good changeup," Feller said. "I never used my changeup to anybody, only left-hand hitters. But he has a decent changeup. His curveball breaks more than the average curveball. His slider is part of his repertoire, which is a good pitch to left-hand hitters, keep it on their fists.

"But he'll have a half-dozen or so hitters he won't be able to get out. Like me. We all have half-a-dozen or a dozen hitters who, no matter what you do, seem like they know what you're going to do and get their base hits. He'll have good days and bad days. "I think he's done very well; of course this is not the 1927 Yankees either," he said, nodding to the home dugout. "Or the Cleveland Indians of 1948."
True enough Mr. Feller, true enough.

Hey guys, let the kid pitch. Enough with the Strasburg rules, the Joba rules and the Hughes rules. If Strasburg is as good as the hype makes him to be, he'll be able to get out of situations like bases loaded and one out. Just let him do so. Like any situation, sometimes we have to take our lumps. Its is only natural to do so. The lineups with get harder, especially this upcoming Friday. Strasburg will make his 3rd start against the Chicago White Sox. We'll see how he does then.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Pat McManamon's article on Strasburg and Feller's comments on MLB Fanhouse
- Click Here for the USA Today's Daily Pitch describing Feller's other comments and Strasburg's day

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