Without Limitations, Is Stephen Strasburg In Line To Win The NL Cy Young Award In 2013?

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Monday February 11th, 2013

Stephen Strasburg is was5-6 (.714) with a 3.14 ERA and 197 in his 159.1 IP during the 2012 year . He was leading the NL in strikeouts, when the club shut him down.  As he is able to progress to over 200+ IP, there is no telling how many Cy Young Awards he cold win with his dominant stuff.

Stephen Strasburg was 15-6 (.714) with a 3.14 ERA and 197 in his 159.1 IP during the 2012 year . He was leading the NL in strikeouts, when the club shut him down. As he is able to progress to over 200+ IP, there is no telling how many Cy Young Awards he cold win with his dominant stuff.

By Jake Dal Porto (Baseball Writer)

Had the Washington Nationals not constrained Stephen Strasburg in 2012, there would’ve been a decent chance that he would win the Cy Young award in ensuing weeks. 

However, the Nationals regard Strasburg as their ace of the future, which is true.  So, they chose to put an Innings cap on the young flame-thrower, thus erasing his Cy Young hopes.

In 2013, the Nationals should take the chains off him, however. Of course, there’s still a chance that they don’t overuse him excessively, which would disable him from going deep into his outings on a regular basis. But, barring any in-season injuries, it’s unlikely that Washington will shut him down again.

After all, Washington’s goal is to assemble a championship team. Currently, there isn’t a better team than the Nats on paper, so they’re heading in the right direction. Strasburg is undoubtedly the anchor of their rotation, especially if Gio Gonzalez gets suspended for appearing in a Miami New Times report with a handful of Major leaguers including Alex Rodriguez

Stephen Strasburg Highlights 2012: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Despite having an Innings Pitched limit in 2012, Strasburg was an ALL=Star and even took home the NL Silver Slugger Award for the year.  Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Regardless, putting the constraints on the curb would be Washington’s most beneficial route.

So with no restrictions, is Strasburg a legitimate Cy Young contender?

You’d be crazy to say “no” to that question. He boasts all the components of a Cy Young-esque pitcher, and he also has a year of experience under his belt.

One of those components is his electric fastball velocity, which indirectly sets up his off-speed pitches. Strasburg’s average fastball speed checked in 95.7 Miles Per Hour (MPH) – which was the highest amongst pitchers who threw at least 150 Innings Pitched. This velocity naturally makes his curveball (80.6 MPH) look about 50 MPH, as a 15 MPH difference –especially from 95 to 80–can do weird things. 

The question is, and has been for quite some time now, can Strasburg withstand 95-plus MPH for an entire season?

Well, his fastball velocity didn’t differ much on a game to game basis in 2012. Towards the end of his capped season there were a couple of games where his average speed dipped into the mid 90’s instead of high 90’s. That’s only natural for a guy who’s never endured a full season, though. 

What should also be noted is the fact that he increased the usage of his fastball just as his velocity begin to slightly slip. No, that’s not a conscious. Throwing more fastballs can instantly cause more fatigue at a quicker rate. 

What isn’t expected, nor welcomed, is a massive drop, such as 95 MPH to 90 MPH. The Nats feared that particular situation, especially considering that Strasburg was coming off a winter surgery. So, they shut him down.

Truth be told, Strasburg’s fastball is vital to his individual success. It goes without saying that he could get by without the best fastball in baseball, sure, but he wouldn’t be nearly be dominant. His off-speed arsenal would look human, and he surely wouldn’t be striking out over 11 batters per Nine Innings. 

Specifically, his curveball, which, according to Fan Graphs was the sixth best curveball in baseball last season, would be partially derailed. Opposing hitters hit .148 and slugged for a mere .209 off his sharp curveball in 2012. Moreover, next to his fastball, which he used 65 percent of the time in 2012, was his primary weapon in battle.

As for what he’s up against, well, a lot frankly. The top-tier of expected contenders consists of Clayton Kershaw, Gio Gonzalez, Johnny Cueto and Matt Cain. R.A. Dickey’s departure to the American League helps marginally, but before being trading to the AL, he was projected as a wild card to win the award again. 

However, Strasburg already has the attention of the media on his side. To be sure, stats are a big piece of the pie, but a pitcher simply doesn’t have a shot at winning if he doesn’t get the national exposure/attention that Strasburg already garners, and has since he was a teenager. 

Of course, Strasburg won’t win the award if he isn’t worthy. He doesn’t have that much power in the media world. But, he will be under the microscope from Day 1. If he just happens to have a boatload of success along the way, then the award is his to lose.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

At only Age 24, Strasburghas many great seasons left in his pitching arm.  He made great strides last year with his arm.  Here are his month by month records and ERA: April 2-0, 1.13 ERA, May 3-1, 4.50 ERA, June 4-2, 3.09 ERA, July 2-2, 4.13 ERA, August 4-1, 2.79 ERA.  Sept he had 5.00 ERA in two starts – but he knew of his Innings Pitched limit shutdown ahead.  Greg Fiume/Getty Images.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of or their partners.***

Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter: 

Jake Dal Porto

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score

Posted on February 11, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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