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Taking Stephen Strasburg, and a win, for granted?

Morning roundup

Stephen Strasburg has pitched two major leagues games, and already it seems easy to take him for granted. Not how special his performances are - those are clearly cherished by every fan in the park and every person watching at home. He's just been so good that, after 12 1/3 innings, you assume he is going to be great and win.

"We like to have him out there any time we can, but we've got to win ballgames other than when Stephen's pitching," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "You can never take for granted you're going to win a game when anybody's pitching. You know, Koufax lost games."

Yeah, at some point, Strasburg is going to lose. Is it going to be tonight against the Chicago White Sox? Well, they have proven they can be shut down. They're tied for 27th in the majors in hits, and they have been one-hit twice - including five days ago - and two-hit once.

They also don't strikeout much - no team in the majors has struck out less. That may bode well for Strasburg staying in the game longer; fewer strikeouts will mean more pitches. No team has been able to sustain rallies against Strasburg, the only runs he's allowed coming on homers. The White Sox have hit a bunch of those - 74, to be exact, seventh most in the majors.

Given that very rough outline of the White Sox, it seems like the keys for Strasburg will be inducing lots of groundballs and avoiding home runs*. There is a good chance Strasburg will make it look easy. If he does, it's important t remember that it is not.

*This has been a staple of most pitchers' strategy for years.

FROM THE POST

Stephen Strasburg is recoiling from the hype as he becomes a phenomenon, Dave Sheinin writes. A total must-read.

The Nationlas dropped to a season-worst five games below .500 as the Tigers swept the Nationals with an 8-3 drubbing in Detroit.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Gwinnett 3, Syracuse 0 (seven innings): The Chiefs managed four hits. Justin Maxwell went 1 for 3 and his now batting .270. Shairon Martis allowed three earned runs on six hits, one walk and four strikeouts in a six-inning complete game. (The team's a completed a game suspended in early May -- and J.D. Martin, who has been with the Nats for more than half a month, took the loss in that game.)

New Britain 6, Harrisburg 3: Chris Marrero went 2 for 4 with a double, raising his average to .290. Tim Pahuta hit a home run. Aaron Thompson allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks, striking out one.

Potomac 13, Myrtle Beach 4: Adrian Alaniz allowed one earned runs in eight innings on two hits and a walk while striking out six. He lowered his ERA to 3.40. Nicholas Moresi went 4 for 5 with two doubles and a walk. Mike Burgess went 2 for 5 with a walk, getting his average back to .260.

West Virginia 7, Hagerstown 5: You're a small state when there's a Low-A team representing all of you. J.P. Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a home run. Destin Hood went 2 for 4. Danny Rosenbaum allowed three earned runs in five innings on five hits and three walks, striking out one.

Vermont starts it's season tonight.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

The Nationals were inferior to the Tigers, Mark Zuckerman says.

It's for the Nats to tinker with the first two spots in their lineup, Ben Goessling writes.

Nats Stats looks at John Lannan's disappearing sinker.

Stephen Strasburg isn't ready to be considered a rookie of the year candidate yet, Cliff Corcoran says.

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 18, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

On the 3rd day of Strasmas my Phenom gave to me:
3 streaks stopped
2 gutsy wins
and a pure night of joy in DC

right?

It's tough to find things about his starts that match french hens and turtle doves.

Posted by: nattaboy | June 18, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

If my calculations are correct 15 games under .500 by the ASB should be in order. No way this organization can consider themselves improved other then every 5th day. Factoid most like to avoid...., currently this team has been playing .200 baseball for the better part of a month. 233 whifs, the worst fielding % in the majors, starters can't get to the 5th, mental mistakes game after game, a bench filled with guys at the Mendoza line. They caught lightening in a bottle during the first 6 weeks, thanks to a slow start by the Braves, a dismal start by the Mets, a collapse in run production by the Phillies and the great pitching void (other then Johnson) by the Marlins. So there you have it 2008, 2009 redux.

Ya see folks there was no plan to compete in 2010, that was all concocted by LernerStank to sell tickets. Those seats will remain empty except when SS pitches, the Phillies, Mets, Braves, Cubs and Cardinals are here. It may take as long as 10 years to reach nirvana, the Nats are still 4 years away! Thats right 4 years!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 18, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

That Nats could easily compete next year.

Bats: Zimmerman and Willingham are set. Resign Dunn. Desmond should improve. Sign a player or two to fill the holes and you're set.

Arms: Strasburg is an ace. Zimmermann should be a fine #2 by then. I fear Lannan may be down with Tommy John by next year, but we still can fill the last three slots from Detwiler, Wang, Marquis, Olsen, or whoever else might turn out. Sign one good free agent and you should be ready to go.

With a little luck and the right additions, you got a playoff team right there. They have three to four All-Star-caliber players right now.

And remember: a team is never as good as it looks when it wins and never as bad as it looks when it loses.

Posted by: cassander | June 18, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

All we need is Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. Hey it's just money!

Posted by: longterm | June 18, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I admit I am assuming the Nats will win today because of Strasburg. Make it so.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | June 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Zimmerman is set - Desmond pretty well set. Everything else, not so much. Even the very worst teams have 2-3 good quality players it's just developing the rest is a giant crapshoot. Pitching staff consists of SS and everybody else is also a giant question mark. Everyone makes the assumption that Zimmerman will be a good SP when he comes back - what body of work do you base that on? If the Nats want to build a contender and not wait 3-4 more years they need to start building ready talent in the system. The only way to accomplish that is to part with Dunn and Willingham while they have good value. The Nats should not be focused on this year (and I know that's hard for people who pay money to see the games), but focused on what it will take to remake this team to contend as early as possible.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Re "not as bad as you look when you're losing" etc: when you're losing four out of every five games (or two out of three, to take a longer-term point of view), doesn't that mean that you are almost as bad as you look when you are losing?

Anybody see Nieves' "attempt" to score from 3B in yesterday's game? I guess, being a "nice guy," he had no intention of trying to knock the catcher over. But maybe try to get in a rundown at least? Rigs seemed embarrassed and a little angered by team's performance in postgame interview with Johnny and Ray: this couldn't have made him feel any better.

And here's a cruel thought: presumably when Porciello rejoins Tigers' rotation, Max Scherzer becomes the #5 starter.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 18, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The man controls the WEATHER apparently! Another spectacular evening predicted for his No. 3 start. Go Nats!

Posted by: Nats_Lady | June 18, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The AL is better than the NL that's just the truth of the matter but no way we should have lost 2/3 to the tribe hell the Mets went into Cleveland and beat the cowboy sh#t out of the indians three straight,and here we go thinking that when SS starts it's a curly W in the books not so fast you don't think other teams are aware of that and are not amped up? the pale hose will come out swinging tonight you can be sure of that.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 18, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Adam, this made me laugh at my desk, after nearly crying over Team USA's atrocious first half:

Given that very rough outline of the White Sox, it seems like the keys for Strasburg will be inducing lots of groundballs and avoiding home runs*.

*This has been a staple of most pitchers' strategy for years.

Posted by: Section506 | June 18, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I think it's the opposite of taking him for granted. It's more like putting great expectations on the back of a rookie (which is what he is no matter how much talent he has). Sounds like the kid's got his head on straight enough that he can deal with all the hype and expectations. I hope so, anyway.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

bendersx6 - IMHO, you're making an assumption that we can get real value for Dunn.
He would only be a 2 - 3 month rental for whoever we trade him to. He becomes a free agent at the end of this year. So we might get a good prospect, nothing more. No top notch, can't miss prospect. No group of really good prospect. Just a kid in A ball that's a ton like other kids we got in A ball.

Cassander, seems to me that you're counting on two very unlikely events.

The first unlikely event is that the Nationals sign 3 quality free agents over the winter.
Not sure why you would think this might happen.

The second unlikely event is that between Zimmermann, Olsen, Marquis, Wang and Detwiler and any other arms we've already got signed that we'll end up with 3 good starting pitchers.
That's possible, but I'd say the odds are more likely that it does not happen.

Posted by: Sunderland | June 18, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Sorry No time for any negative stats, chatter or vibes today. That's for another time. Today is our National Strasburg Holiday. Time to rejoice and enjoy our one win of the week and who knows, maybe even a no-hitter. See you all out at the Paak later. Should be a great night for baseball.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 18, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Potomac 13, Myrtle Beach 4: Adrian Alaniz allowed one earned runs??? runs????

Posted by: hansenjo | June 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Just think how good we would have been if we would have not been so tight with the cash and signed Chapman, Garland, and Hudson? Then at the deadline we trade for traded for Peavy (as a present to SS) and Hart who are both on the block.

I wonder if the reason the Learners are tight with the money right now is cuz of the TV deal from hell. It will be interesting to see if the purse open in 2 years.

Posted by: hansenjo | June 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

He's kind of like Tiger Woods - you have to watch because you never know what might happen. No hype necessary - he produces his own without the media's help. There will be some gem in there during the game (or more than one) that makes your eyes pop out. Sorry, that is just how it is. Only wish he was on National TV again so I can watch live.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 18, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The Reds overpaid, by maybe 20% over everybody else, to get Chapman (who is a Louisville Bat these days, btw). He may well be good someday, but that's someday. If it were that clear, the big-money clubs would have been in on it. They weren't. That should tell you something.

Garland was NEVER going to come here. As in, not ever. He said as much, more than once. Wasn't gonna happen.

Hudson, I'll give you.

They have nothing to trade that will bring a Peavy or Hart, that won't leave a bigger hole than it fills.

The TV deal ramped up since 2005 to something like $25MM/year, I think. (Too lazy to look it up.) I doubt they'd make much more than that off 9,000 people four out of five days.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 18, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

hansenjo - hey, interesting comment about the TV deal. Does it end in 2 years? I've been wondering if / when / how those shackles come off. Any more info would be appreciated. I'm totally under-educated on this.

Doveline - And a Merry Strasmas to you too!

Posted by: Sunderland | June 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Post needs editors, example 1,056,587:

Adam wrote:

"They don't strikeout much."

Strikeout is a noun, not a verb.

It should be: "They don't strike out much."

I would have thought the Wash. Post baseball writer would have known this.

I miss Chico.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | June 18, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sunderland, you're making me look it up now. Sorta: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Atlantic_Sports_Network

"When the Montreal Expos were relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2004, the issue arose regarding television rights for the new franchise. Since at least 1981, Major League Baseball had designated the Baltimore Orioles television territory to extend from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina.

"The Orioles agreed to share its territory with the Nationals in return for the ability to present the Nationals games on the Orioles television network, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The Orioles have a 90 percent stake in MASN and MLB paid the Orioles $75 million for 10 percent of the regional sports network. When the Lerner family bought the Nationals in July 2006 they became part owners in MASN. Over the next 23 years, the Washington Nationals’ stake in the network will increase to 33 percent. Under the current arrangement, MASN paid the Nationals $20 million to broadcast their games in 2005."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 18, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Chico was no better; I miss Barry. But Adam is good, for other reasons.

And Merry Strasmas to all.

or is it (cue spooky Mahler-esque music)
Strasmas III -- The Curse of the Ess'Ai?

I'll be in 222, finding out.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 18, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I'll freely admit that most teams will look at Dunn as a rental player and maybe Willingham (who's signed) will be the one you deal, but somehow someway that has to be the mindset. You are not assured of getting any FA help in the off season and we all agree the pickings are mighty slim currently in the minors. Even signing Dunn is fraught with peril - he will want more than a 2 year deal at 10-12 million per, and with the thrifty mindset of the owners what will that bring?

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 18, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

It's not a vending machine, you know. You can't just say "Trade Willingham for X+Y+Z." He's young, he's good, he likes it here--how are you going to improve on that?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 18, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of whether or not he needs it, the hype has been and is most definitely there. It's the internetz, I tells ya! Just let the kid do his thing every fifth day without all the hoopla (yeah, like that's going to happen). :-)

(And nothing against Mahler, but, what - the drama prairie dog doesn't cut it anymore?)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

(cue "If I Had a Hammer") Josh peeks around the corner: "Did somebody need me?"

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Only wish he was on National TV again so I can watch live.
****************************************

It is. MLB Network picked up the game and they will show it everywhere except DC and Chicago.

Posted by: thepostischeap | June 18, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

(hmmm, Schoenberg could work, though)

Tomorrow's game will be on Fox, too, if anybody cares. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"the drama prairie dog doesn't cut it anymore?)"

Speaking of which...

Scott Olsen: http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/.e1d/img/4.0/global/baseball/mlb/players/7585.jpg

Dramatic Prairie Dog: http://sonsofsamhorn.net/wiki/images/3/34/Dramatic-prairie-dog.jpg

Twins separated at birth? You make the call...

Posted by: joebleux | June 18, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Most people think the modern era of baseball started in the 1890s with the old Baltimore Orioles, some think it was more like the time when Ruth came up, post-WW2, integration or even the expansion era. But it really developed earlier than that, when pitchers stopped thinking they should be giving up as many home runs as possible.

Posted by: CharlieF | June 18, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The real question is how are the Nats gonna get Morse in the game w/o the DH? I'd love to see Bernie in CF but am not banking on it. Morse needs to be in there.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 18, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

So the Nats get $20 million for 162 baseball games, and every Big Ten member school gets roughly $20 million for their 13 football games.
Football really is king, huh?

Posted by: Sunderland | June 18, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

LOL, joebleux! That's just wrong (but very funny).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 18, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

1a: yah, I know -- couldn't bring myself to mention the resemblance while he was pitching well, but now that he's on the rehab heap with the rest of our staff, I figure he's fair game.

Posted by: joebleux | June 18, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Was I an idiot for thinking the Nats would make a baseball decision and keep the rotation in order, and buy tickets accordingly (ie, for tomorrow's game)? Got a sinking feeling just recently, and sure enough this morning I see SS is starting tonight, they've shuffled it up to make more money and get two home starts. I'm displeased, but maybe I shouldn't have expected I could just count five games down the line to predict his next start? Thoughts?

Posted by: dreadnat | June 18, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

My thought, dreadnat, is that you haven't read a thing in the last week or so regarding SS's starts. it has ben made perfectly clear by all parties involved that he will start every fifth DAY, not every fifth GAME, at least until the ASB. Then we'll see from there. please make a note of it.

Posted by: RPrecupjr | June 18, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

So can we blame the Devil in Baltimore for the high prices and shady ticket sales?

Posted by: hansenjo | June 18, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Duly noted, a**hole. Thanks.

Posted by: dreadnat | June 18, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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