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.
July 15, 2010; 6:09 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Steve McCatty supportive of Stephen Strasburg's contributions to calling game
Next: Two Nationals minor leaguers suspended
Posted by: periculum | July 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MKadyman | July 15, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Meridian1 | July 15, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BinM | July 15, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cokedispatch | July 15, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 15, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mfowler1 | July 15, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 16, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 16, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.