Stephen Strasburg changes up
FROM THE POST
The electricity and dominance remained the same, but Stephen Strasburg unveiled a new approach Friday night against the White Sox by relying more on his change-up. He threw a total of 22 change-ups in his first two big league starts. On Friday, he threw 24, and six of his 10 strikeouts came on that pitch.
"I think I was just able to throw it over the plate a little bit more, just had a little better feel for it than in the previous outing," Strasburg said. "A lot of it had to do with what I was trying to do with the pitch. In the previous outing I was trying to do too much with it. tonight I just let it work itself. Just went out there and trusted it."
Like every pitch he throws, Strasburg's change-up is unlike most any other pitcher's. It zips to the plate between 88 and 92 mph - roughly the same speed as every other Nationals starter's fastball. Before his change-up reaches the batter it darts violently toward the ground, as if the gravity in front of home plate started taking steroids.
Strasburg relatively ignored his change-up during his first two starts. He had often avoided throwing it in the minors - no matter how filthy, it was the only pitch most Class AAA batters had a chance at, since it wasn't humming in the high 90s.
He carried that pattern into the majors. In his debut against the Pirates, Strasburg surrendered the first home run he allowed with his change-up. Strasburg threw 13 in his first start and only nine in his second. Pitching coach Steve McCatty urged Strasburg to use more Friday.
"We had talked about using change-ups, because he's got such a good one," McCatty said.
Before the game, catcher Ivan Rodriguez decided he would call more of them. From Strasburg's warmups, he could tell it would be a weapon.
"He had been throwing in the bullpen, and I liked the change-up, the way it was moving," Rodriguez said. "I just used it. We used the change-up late in the count to strike out guys."
As the game persisted, Strasburg used it more and more. Even as the White Sox received extra looks at the pitch as the lineup cycled through, Strasburg still used it to great effect.
"It's hard to go from it," McCatty said. "Because it's so good."
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse 5, Gwinnett 0: Craig Stammen came within one out of a no-hitter. He allowed two hits and one walk in seven innings. He also went 1 for 3. Pete Orr went 2 for 2 with a double and a walk.
Syracuse 1, Gwinnett 0 (seven innings): Erik Arnesen allowed no runs on five hits and four walks. Joel Peralta pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings with a strikeout for for the save.
Bowie 5, Harrisburg 4: Ross Detwiler allowed no runs on six hits and a walk. Danny Espinosa went 3 for 5 with two doubles.
Potomac 5, Lynchburg 4: Stephen Lombardozzi went 4 for 4 with two doubles. Wilberto Ortiz went 2 for 4 with a home run. Brad Peacock allowed three earned runs on four hits and three walks, striking out eight in 5 2/3.
Hagerstown 13, West Virginia 3: J.P. Ramirez went 4 for 5 with a home run. Jeff Kobernus went 4 for 6 with a double. Justin Bloxom went 4 for 6 with a triple.
Vermont 9, Lowell 4: Vermont opened their season. Wade Moore, this year's 19th-round pick, went 2 for 4 with a home run.
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