June 15, 2010

POWer Pitching

12.1 innings, 3 earned runs, 5 walks, 22 strikeouts, 2 wins. Apparently, those numbers get you noticed. National League Player of the Week. Sports Illustrated cover boy. Topic of discussion from FanHouse to San Fran.

Oh sure, now folks want to have an opinion about the Nationals. Where were you when that batting tee attacked Junior Spivey?!

The Nationals haven't had a true power pitcher since John Patterson struck out 185 in 198 innings in 2005. (He also struck out 42 in 40.2 innings of work in an injury-shortened 2006, walking just 10. John Patterson was good. Snakebit, but good.) Not coincidentally, that's also the last season the Nats posted a non-losing record.

What Strasburg does, apart from collect buckets of Ks and make major league hitters look silly with his curveball, is give the entire pitching staff a different look. For four years hitters pretty well knew what they were getting in a 3-game series vs Washington. Three pitchers throwing between 88 and 91 and hoping to keep to ball on the ground and in the park. Sure there were minor differences between guys, maybe one was a lefty, but there was nothing to make opposing batters re-tool their entire approach to hitting. Now there is.

Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn said, "Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing." In a three game set, the other team might see Strasburg's 100 MPH fastball one night, Lannan's 88 MPH slider at the knees the next, and Livan's 62 MPH Bugs Bunny curve the next afternoon. That has to mess with your timing, doesn't it?

Of course it wouldn't be DC if fans didn't look for the dark cloud in every silver lining. Post columnist Thomas Boswell, who really wanted Dustin Ackley anyway, is worried that too many strikeouts will put an unnecessary strain on Strasburg's arm. Or, in the alternative:

3 comments:

Natzzzzzz said...

Did you notice Nuke's uniform number? Interesting.

Kevin Trainor said...

Linked at Beltway Baseball.

Harper said...

But then Boswell thought to himself... "If Strasburg gets outs too fast then he'll never build up arm strength!" His head then exploded.