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Stephen Strasburg ready to start second half

Savor every pitch Stephen Strasburg throws from now until late August - all 1,000 or so - because the Nationals will not unsheathe their phenom again from then until after winter thaws. Strasburg's rookie season - which continues Friday when he opens the second half of the Nationals' season on the mound at Sun Life Stadium against the Marlins - will come to a close no more than 62 innings from now, probably 10 starts.

"The No. 1 priority is he finishes up healthy," Riggleman said. "If he ends up with a winning record, a losing record, a .500 record, the No. 1 thing if for him to be healthy so we can build on this year and really get him on track in his career to really take off. I'm hoping I see his continuation of him being a force to deal with."

Seven starts into his career, Strasburg has reached an alluring moment in his development. Major leaguers have watched him face other major leaguers enough to familiarize themselves with his pitches. Hitters have taken more of a plan into the batter's box against him recently - get ahead in the count and pounce on outside fastballs.

"Now, we were actually talking the other day, it's going to be fun to see how he adjusts to them now," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He understands it's a cat-and-mouse game. He accepts the challenge."

The league adjusting has, at worse, still only meant - gasp! - consecutive starts in which Strasburg allowed multiple earned runs, in his fifth and sixth starts against the Braves and Mets. "For him," Zimmerman joked, "that's unacceptable."

Strasburg vowed after his last start - in which he surrendered a leadoff homer and then terminated 18 of the final 21 batters he faced - that he would be more assertive in choosing the pitches he wants to throw.


"I like that," Riggleman said. "That's basically what we tell him, anyway. We meet with him and say, 'Hey, you know, you can shake your head if he calls something you don't want. Shake your head. It's your game.' That's what all the pitchers are supposed to do. He's been reluctant to do it. He's very respectful. We've got two veteran catchers. We're at a point now where he realizes he knows himself better than they know him."

Pitching coach Steve McCatty emphasized to Strasburg to "throw what you want to throw." He saw Strasburg mix in his curveball at different spots. McCatty said Strasburg felt "good" about himself after the game and is learning and understanding about pitching in the majors.

"You throw what you want to throw," McCatty said. "You don't work with the catcher. The catcher works with you."

Strasburg alluded to his desire to throw inside more, "which has got to be up to him to be able to do that." Riggleman said. "Even if you call a pitch inside, a lot of pitchers will not throw that pitch with conviction. When it's coming from a pitcher - 'I want to throw this ball in' - now it's on him to do it. It's not an easy place to try to pitch. It sounds like he is going to be committed to it."

After his last start, Strasburg said he wanted to revert to what he believes defines him as a pitcher. He may have more conviction in his pitches, more comfort on the mound than he did during the opening patch of his major league career. That is a scary thought.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 15, 2010; 6:09 PM ET
 
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Comments

He's still just one guy. Like Walter Johnson standing alone on a field. You still need 1, and hopefully 2 more at least somewhat approximating him at the top of the rotation.

Even more than an Adam Dunn or a Josh Willingham.

Posted by: periculum | July 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

It still sounds to me that Strasburg does not like the way Rodriquez calls the game. It all adds up after hearing that Strasburg called his college pitching coach, consulted with McCaty, and then Nieves caught the next game.

Will this conflict ever be written about?

Posted by: MKadyman | July 15, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to hear this. I was concerned they were going to over-coach him, after the ridiculous criticism that he had thrown "too many strikes" just because he let an 0-2 pitch get too much of the plate.

Let him pitch his game unless he shows he needs some help. I can't imagine him shaking Pudge off very much, anyway.

Posted by: Meridian1 | July 15, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-yea, too true, Meridian! (vis a vis my last post on my no-longer-incipient madness increasingly becoming more obvious the longer the Nats dawdle in mediocrity or below).
I'm also crazy enough to think Mr. Lee is both what we need and that the opportunity to play the Phils may be a selling point (weak, I know-still need the Slows to spend the dough-a scenario not yet evidenced for WHATEVER the reason.). So, I'm with you Peri-but assuming he's not destined for the Capital-who would you target? Along with Crawford, A.G. and....who'd be available at 2nd/SS?
(And Bill Collins? I swear, I was happy when Bud picked the Slows-still waiting to be proven right....)
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-and as if to confirm things, Meridian (Bin, I hope you're charitable "good way" is correct) I JUST realize that, even though our NATS ain't playin', there ARE some other GAMES on...no WONDER this seemed the longest A.S. break ever!
Time was, I'd peruse the net each a.m., looking for BASEball news...heck, NEWS!...in general.Now? With a laserlike focus,I ignore just about everything but NATSional news....obsessively poring over blogs....posts...scouring for that tidbit...anxiously waiting to read what fellow Gang members have to say....I've become O.C.D. with the Nats as my sole/soul? point of reference.....Sunshine Bobby-bourbon and maalox, please.GAWD....there are GAMES tonight? I was fixin' on listening to Vermont...or our GCL team....on the internet. I mean, even my X-faves, the Cards, are on tonight Ahhhh....means I still got an hour til game time....any news on Maldonado? Gang?
H-e-e-l-l-lp!!!! And DANG it, Peri-what's taking you so long to give us your take? ALL of you! NOW!! POST!!!
Hurry....must...gain....control.....
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

zendo:
Maybe try a cup of decaf occaisionaly; The wattage of your posts is good, but it's the amps that kill, dontcha know.
Suggestion - Load the VT game on MiLB.com as background, and watch the StL game (if you can). You should get good baseball 'in stereo'.

If the Maldonado you seek is Carlos, he got optioned back to SYR in early June, and is active coming out of the AS break, but not hitting well (.218/.291/.282 slash).

Posted by: BinM | July 15, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I like the confidence SS is showing, and why not. The ability to keep batters off balance with some chin music should make him more effective. GO SS...GO NATS.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 15, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-actually it's those energy drinks, Bin-too hot fer coffee! But thanks....I smile as I type this!
Now-nothing against M.Z.-I'm a devoted reader, just can't figure out how to post (hold your sighs of releif, Gang!)...but wish WE has some cool stuff to wear o identify ourselves as part of the tribe....
Go Nats!!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, you just wrote about it. As long as it's all in your head, that's probably all it will get.

*********************
It still sounds to me that Strasburg does not like the way Rodriquez calls the game. It all adds up after hearing that Strasburg called his college pitching coach, consulted with McCaty, and then Nieves caught the next game.

Will this conflict ever be written about?

Posted by: MKadyman | July 15, 2010 6:43 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 15, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

MKadyman are you morning the loss of George so much that you need to try and manufacture a NY controversy. SS and Rodriguez and THE CONSPIRCY to hide the TRUTH from us, get serious, how many games have they played together? And from this miniscule sampling you somehow arise at this conclusion with your intuitive investigative skills.Get serious if it weren't so ridiculous I'd be offended that someone actually thought there were Nats fans that STUPID. Get a life, I think there's a rerun of Murder She Wrote on right now, jeez.

Posted by: mfowler1 | July 15, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

@MKadyman - If anything, I think it's Nieves that's at issue. It was after he caught that Stras said he needed to call his own pitches more. But I don't think there's really an issue with either of them. It's just Stras needing to feel comfortable shaking them off. I don't think anyone gets hard feelings over that. Just part of the game.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 16, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

This was a joke, right? Tell me this was a joke...

************
MKadyman are you morning the loss of George so much that you need to try and manufacture a NY controversy. SS and Rodriguez and THE CONSPIRCY to hide the TRUTH from us, get serious, how many games have they played together? And from this miniscule sampling you somehow arise at this conclusion with your intuitive investigative skills.Get serious if it weren't so ridiculous I'd be offended that someone actually thought there were Nats fans that STUPID. Get a life, I think there's a rerun of Murder She Wrote on right now, jeez.

Posted by: mfowler1 | July 15, 2010 11:52 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 16, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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