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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We will be compiling a list of your questions from our e-mailbag and posting the responses on Wednesdays.
Wednesday August 10, 2011
Q: Once Anthony Rendon signs with the Nationals, do you see him moving to 2B? What’s your best guess? From Flips, parts unknown.
MLB reports: The Rice product, drafted 6th overall by the Nationals this year is likely to sign with the Nationals by the August 15th deadline. In the unlikely event that he does not sign, then the Nationals would get a compensation pick next draft. But luckily for Washington, Rendon is expected to join the club this year. With Ryan Zimmerman entrenched at 3rd base, many people have speculated at which position Rendon will end up. I have heard 2nd base tossed around, but the smart money is 1st base. Adam La Roche is a temporary solution for the squad and not the long-term answer. The Nationals appear to be set up the middle with Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Rendon’s bat has never been a question. To get him quickly into the lineup, expect the Nationals to move him to 1st base right away after being signed. The outfield is another option, but more of a last resort.
Q: Will this be the year that the Texas Rangers win the World Series? From Anne, Dallas.
MLB reports: If the Rangers had been able to sign Cliff Lee, my answer would have been yes. But they did not and the Halladay-Lee combination will lead the Phillies to victory in the fall in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, the Rangers have an excellent team. An offense led by Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and company. C.J. Wilson as the ace. The bullpen trio of Neftali Feliz, Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. The Rangers can do it all. But firstly, just to make it to the World Series the Rangers will need to pass the Yankees and Red Sox. Even then, the Phillies if they end up as their opponent will be tough to beat. The Phillies have a solid offense core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence. The bullpen has been steady, led by closer Ryan Madson. But it is the starting pitching that will see the Phillies through. With all the roadblocks in the Rangers path, I see them as a strong contender but not necessarily the favorites to win the World Series this year.
Q: Why is it legal to bulldoze a catcher when he clearly has the ball, but not a fielder at any other base? From G Homan, Ohio.
MLB reports: You will have to check the rule book on this one. It is just as legal to take out a catcher as it is an infielder during play, but it depends on the nature of the play. A baserunner cannot run outside of the baselines to purposely run over an infielder or a catcher. But in the course of running the bases, runners can collide with an infielder as they would a catcher. Now the runners cannot purposely injure a defensive player, like using the spikes or an elbow to the face. But to reach base safely, a strong slide or collision is a part of the game and can happen at second base the same way it can at home. Despite cries to change the rules after the Buster Posey injury, strong and aggressive base running remains a vital part of the game.
Q: Will the Phillies get an arm for their bullpen through waivers? From Miguel, Philadelphia.
MLB reports: Last time I checked, your team was stacked fairly well at the back-end of their pitching staff. Ryan Madson as closer. Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras (when healthy) and Kyle Kendrick. I wouldn’t be too worried about the pen. Some people are calling for Heath Bell still to go to the Phillies. But with the waiver process in effect, I can’t see Bell falling to the Phillies before getting snapped up earlier on waivers. Another arm or two might out there, but nothing too special. The Phillies most likely go with what they got and that is still much above most other pens in baseball.
Q: If you look at the numbers, you will find out that Indianapolis, IN and San Antonio, TX are the most populous cities without a MLB team. I would think size of market would drive who gets the next teams. It is obvious that MLB is financially doing really well. I would keep two leagues, and give the expansion teams to the AL, since they are the league with only 14 teams.
West Midwest East Atlantic
LA Angels Rangers Indianapolis Yankees
Oakland A’s KC Royals Tigers Red Sox
San Antonio Twins Indians Orioles
Mariners White Sox Rays Blue Jays
West Midwest East Atlantic
Dodgers Colorado Rockies Chicago Cubs NY Mets
Padres Houston Astros Cincinnati Reds Phil Phillies
Giants St. Louis Cardinals Atlanta Braves Florida Marlins
Dbacks Brewers Pitt Pirates Wash Nationals
I tried to used a US map,and place teams in divisions according to how the line up East and West. From Tom, Orange CA.
MLB reports: Very interesting alignment Tom. Indianapolis and San Antonio have been two very popular destinations for our readers in selecting the next two expansion MLB cities. There has been resistance by Bud Selig to further expand baseball. However, as discussed in our previous articles on the subject, baseball needs to add two more teams to balance out the leagues to 16-teams a piece. Also realignment is in order to create better geographical rivalries and even out the number of teams per division. So far, the most that we have heard is that baseball is planning to realign by moving one NL team to the AL by 2013 (as the 2012 regular season schedule has already been prepared in draft format). The problem with the 15/15 split is that an interleague game would need to be played most days, which does not seem like a worthwhile proposition. Houston by most accounts is the team most likely to move. So while we appreciate your thoughts, the expansion and radical realignment ideas are unlikely to happen… yet. If and when they do, we would like to see more shifting of teams to create new excitement and rivalries in baseball. But the framework you have laid down is a very good start. Thank you for sending it in.
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