Steve McCatty supportive of Stephen Strasburg's contributions to calling game
In Stephen Strasburg's last start, he helped call his game and earned his first win in nearly a month. It was something pitching coach Steve McCatty had hoped Strasburg would do even earlier this season.
"I've been talking to him the last four starts about doing that," McCatty said. "Like I told him, it's not about strength and weaknesses. You go with your strength. There's an idea what you're looking for. What I wanted to do is go out there, and if there's something you don't want to throw, shake. As a young guy, the first few times, he didn't want to do it. I was more stressful the last week about it, and he also made a call and talked to somebody else, but you got to be what you are."
Strasburg said he called his college pitching coach and made the determination that "If they're going to beat me, they're going to beat me on me calling my own game."
McCatty said it's an issue all young pitchers deal with, and it comes at different points in a rookie's season -- or sometimes even a few seasons. With veteran Ivan Rodriguez as the Nationals' top catcher (although Wil Nieves caught Friday's start), McCatty said it can become even more difficult for a pitcher to be assertive.
"Sometimes, as a young guy, it takes time to finally make that decision," McCatty asaid. "A lot of times young guys won't do it for a couple years. And you have a future Hall of Famer back there in Pudge. And not to say Pudge is doing the wrong thing, but you're trying to work with a guy, and he's got to do what he wants to do. So, you get a little intimidated and don't have the conviction in your pitches. But you got to throw what you want to throw. I keep telling him and telling him, and he finally did it."
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."
During the season, the signals come from the catcher and only occasionally from the dugout. McCatty said not every decision Strasburg made Friday was perfect, and that he learned throughout the game. McCatty and Strasburg discussed throughout the game the different decisions made.
"If you're out there and not shaking your head to throw what you want, you're a knucklehead," McCatty said. "You got to do it. There were great catchers who knew everything. Now, if you trust everything the guy says and have conviction with it, then you make better pitches. But if it's not what you want to throw and throw it, then it's not the same. We told him, 'Go do what you want to do.' And if somebody shakes their head, don't worry about it."
Strasburg starts again on Friday against the Florida Marlins.
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