Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Only Then

Last night, we watched a little bit of Stephen Strasburg's latest start on MASN for The Syracuse Chiefs. Clearly noticeable was that many hitters for The Toledo Mud Hens were afraid of batting against the 1st Overall Pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. The Detroit Tigers AAA Hitters were swinging at the first pitch, almost psyched out over just the thought of facing Strasburg. Most all, except for Carlos Guillen.

The veteran Tigers infielder is on a rehab assignment, recovering from an injury. When Guillen stepped to the plate to face Stephen for the first time last night--he had a game plan. He wasn't nervous and eventually hit a solid single to right field. Carlos Guillen is a Major League League Hitter, not a Minor League Hitter hoping to make the Big Leagues.

Big difference.

Stephen Strasburg really hasn't been challenged yet in professional baseball. He's getting his feet wet advancing through Washington's Minor League System. But when "The Pied Piper Of Our Washington Nationals" does finally arrive at Nationals Park to pitch in his first Big League games--he's going to need to make some adjustments.

Big League hitters like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, David Wright and Albert Pujols--just to name a few--are not going be afraid to bat against him either. They are going to challenge Stephen Strasburg. And only then will Strasburg truly become a Major League Pitcher. You can have all the talent in the world, but unless you know how to use it against the best in the game--success will not be guaranteed. Stephen Strasburg seems to be a pretty smart and heady guy. And he will make those modifications--most likely becoming a very successful Major League Pitcher.

A top of the rotation starter that Our Washington Nationals will covet for years to come.

But all the hype that's accompanied his meteoric rise needs to be dialed back a little bit.

Sohna and I are as excited as anyone anticipating Strasburg's debut in a Nationals Uniform, but we realize the young man is not going to pitch a no-hitter every single time out. He's not going to strike out 20 batters in every game. And he's not going to win every single start he ever pitches. That's not possible. Remember, arguably the greatest righthanded Major League pitcher of all-time, Walter Johnson, lost 279 games. And the most dominating lefthanded pitcher of the last 50 years, Sandy Koufax, lost 87 in his abbreviated career.

No doubt, Strasburg is a unique talent.

But when Our General Manager Mike Rizzo makes the call and Stephen Strasburg advances to the Big Leagues, he will need to refine his mindset upon facing Major League Hitters. Only then will The San Diego State University product's talent mature. Only then can "The Pied Piper Of Our Washington Nationals" become the leader so many are expecting. And only then will he become so accomplished.

Baseball is a game of growth and Stephen Strasburg will need to take those final nurturing steps.

Strasburg Photo Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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