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Strasburg-mania Returns to the Nationals September 6th

Saturday September 3, 2011



Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  Stephen Strasburg burst onto the MLB scene with the Washington Nationals in his first start on June 8, 2010 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In his 7 inning gem, he struck out 14 batters with 0 walks, and only 4 hits allowed.  Throughout the rest of the 2010 season, he relied on a fastball that averaged 97.3 mph.  Strasburg also possesses a hard biting, 82 mph curveball and a 90 mph changeup.  His 2010 season came to a grinding halt on August 21st that year, when he left a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he was dominating with elbow tightness.  The Nationals’ front office and coaches all held their breath until after Strasburg’s MRI, which revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament.  Stephen Strasburg required Tommy John Surgery and would be on the shelf for a year.

Strasburg had been previously dubbed as the best pitching prospect ever.  Strasburg was drafted #1 overall out of San Diego State University in 2009 after what is arguably one of the best college careers for a pitcher of all time.  Strasburg signed a $15.1 million dollar bonus just 77 seconds before the deadline that year.  In the 2009 season leading up to the draft, Strasburg was pretty much unhittable.  In 109 innings, he gave up only 59 hits and 19 walks, compared to 195 strikeouts.

Strasburg’s 2011 season has seen him start off with his rehab in Viera, Florida at the Nationals’ spring training facility.  His first official appearance on his rehab stint was for the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League in Single-A.  Strasburg pitched 1 2/3 innings as he was under a strict pitch limit, and gave up one run with 4 strikeouts.  Every 5th day the phenom has taken the mound for Hagerstown, then Potomac in the Advanced A-ball Carolina League.  He also pitched in AAA with the Syracuse Chiefs and for the Harrisburg Senators in AA.  His last start was the most impressive of all.  On September 1st, Strasburg toed the rubber for Harrisburg against the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston’s AA affiliate.  Through 6 innings, he faced one batter over the minimum, with only one hit and 4 strikeouts.  He also hit 99 mph on the radar gun a number of times.

Strasburg is expected to be called up to start on September 6th at home.  He is actually tentatively scheduled to start 4 home games in the month, in part so that the Nationals can reap the benefits of increased gate revenue as well as being able to control game time starts in case of inclement weather.

The fact that Strasburg took less than 12 months to be back on a mound is a testament to: a) the advances in the surgery, allowing for less rehab time; b) Strasburg’s work ethic; and c) Strasburg’s freakish body healing so quickly.  Strasburg will surely be handled with kid gloves, as he has his entire professional career, never throwing over 100 pitches in a single start.

Strasburg seems to be healthy, and will be looking to be as dominant as his early career has shown.  With ultra prospect Bryce Harper and young phenoms like Strasburg, Drew Storen and Ryan Zimmerman, including recently drafted Anthony Rendon and Matt Purke,  the future actually looks bright for a franchise that has been hurting for a winner.  With a growing fan base (and likely taking fans from the lowly Orioles), this young crop of players look to take the Nationals franchise from laughingstock to a true contender in the tough NL East.

Look for Strasburg’s first start of the season on September 6 against the LA Dodgers.  Strasburg is a true rare talent that only comes around once a generation.  So if you ever get a chance to see him live, I highly recommend you do so, because you could be a witness to history.



***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

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Ryan Tatusko: MLB Guest Blog

The players speak: MLB reports devotes this page to the players who will be writing blogs in their own words to you, the readers.

The inaugural MLB Guest Blog comes from Ryan Tatusko of the Washington Nationals.  Ryan currently pitches for the AA Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League.

April 21, 2011

Ryan Tatusko:  This year was a different year for me in preparation for many reasons. For one, I was starting out with a new team that I really know nothing about.  Furthermore, I am going to be a full-time starter this year. In the past, when I was with the Texas Rangers, I was would routinely ping-pong between the bullpen and the starting rotation based on where they, the organization, would need me.  I would then usually stick in the rotation around the all-star game, but this year was different. The Nationals have told me that at this time they envision me as helping the ball club as a starting pitcher and that’s where they wanted to keep me.

Heading into the season as a starter, I did not necessarily change the way I went about my off-season preparation or conditioning, but I did tweak a few things here and there. For instance, as part of my bullpen sessions, I wouldn’t throw them as frequently as I would when I started the season as a reliever.  Instead, I would do fewer sessions with more pitchers.  I also made sure that I would do more long distance cardio work to build my stamina for the upcoming year. My preparation for camp has never changed in the 4+ years that I have been going.  The team you are with gives you a pretty set schedule as to what to do in terms of running, lifting, and throwing and as long as you follow it, you will be just fine and will be ready to go when camp starts.

Getting to camp this year was fun and exciting for me as I got the feeling that I was a fresh face all over again, the same feelings I got when I was first drafted by the Rangers came back.  I was excited, maybe too excited. The first few games I played in I probably tried to do too much.  But once I settled down and starting getting back to my game, I felt like I had very good success during spring training. I really wanted to work on throwing my change-up for strikes more in camp, as it seems to be a pitch that has been less effective for me as compared to my other pitches.  By the time that I left Viera,FL I felt that I made immense strides with it and I was extremely happy with the way I was throwing it and with the confidence I was displaying.

Not understanding where you are going to be assigned is one of those things that can consume you if you are not careful.  When you start to think about the potential moves that the organization could and should make, you start to drive yourself crazy and you get distracted from what you do on the mound. It’s one of those things you just got to try your best to block out and not think about as you go through your process and getting ready for the season.  There is always a rhyme and a reason that people do things and although it might not be evidently clear at the first get go as to why; you eventually find out.

I have since been assigned to AA Harrisburg to begin the year.  I have made a few starts and although one particularly has not gone the way I would have liked it too, it is still very early on in the season.  I see these starts as an opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes and to grow as a pitcher. There are numerous quotes and clichés out there that talk about having a short memory if you want to succeed at this game and they are all absolutely true. There is a fine line between learning and obsessing over particular starts.  There is always something positive and negative to get out of taking the mound, but as a player you have to be careful and not let it consume you and over-think about the process. The really good pitchers out there learn and move on the quickest so that they can devote all their time to their next outing.

I am eager to get back on the mound quickly and progress through the season.   I have never felt stronger mentally and physically and I can’t wait to see what the season has in store for me.

Thanks for reading.


***A special thank you to Ryan Tatusko for his time and effort in preparing his guest MLB blog entry for MLB reports.  Please follow Ryan on Twitter.  In addition to being a talented pitcher, Ryan is a tremendous person and loves interacting with his fans.  A friend of MLB reports, we look forward to reporting on Ryan throughout the season as he continues his journey to Washington.  Good luck Ryan!***

To learn more about Ryan, please view our February profile of Ryan Tatusko.

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