Filtering by Tag: Shutdown

Gio Gonzalez and the Cy Young

Last night, before Gio Gonzalez's shutout start against the Cubs, I was looking at the NL WAR leaders for pitchers. At the top were five names; Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, and Robert Allen Dickey. Looking at other stats and a few things stand out. Clayton Kershaw is already at 199 innings, Strasburg and Gio haven't pitcher nearly that many innings, and if it wasn't for the knuckleball it would be a lot easier to go ahead and give Dickey the Cy Young.

Looking at some of the other names on the list and it is amazing that Cueto has put up the numbers he has in Great American Ballpark, and while Strasburg and Gio have pitched the fewest innings they lead the NL in FIP at 2.64 and 2.76 respectively. More importantly and maybe most importantly Gio Gonzalez is now tied atop the NL in WAR after his dominating start last night, and as unimportant as wins are as a stat Gio is also tied atop the NL in that. Gio also has the second highest K/9 behind teammate Stephen Strasburg. 

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The Nats Can't win Without...

We've heard this argument before. Think back to the day the Nationals lost out on Prince Fielder, or the entire build up to the time he signed. All that was talked about was how much of a hug upgrade he would be over LaRoche, and how he would add that big left handed power bat to the middle of the Nats line-up. All of this is very true and the Nats would have an even bigger lead on the Braves with his 3.9 fWAR compared to LaRoche's 2.2, but the Nats still have a 6.5 game lead for the division on Labor Day. Fielder wasn't the difference between the Nats being a playoff team and not. 

Despite what many thought the Nationals are on the verge of a playoff appearance without Prince Fielder, and who knows how far they can go without Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is good. He is tied with Johnny Cueto for the second highest fWAR in the NL at 4.6, but right behind them is Gio Gonzalez at 4.5. It isn't like the Nationals are losing their one and only Ace. Don't forget that Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler have also pitched well for the Nationals. As Thomas Boswell pointed out this morning in the Washington Post the Nationals have the third highest winning percentage without Strasburg. 

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An Incomplete Strasburg Shutdown Primer

Here is some of what we know about the Strasburg's innings limit. The ultimate innings cap appears to be 180 innings as Mike Rizzo told Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan that Strasburg will not exceed that number. We also know that the Nationals have a 50 page binder on how to handle Strasburg. The most important thing we know though is that this isn't exactly an innings limit, and while Mike Rizzo gave a number of 180 and Davey Johnson has recently said Strasburg will miss 3-4 starts at the end of the season no one outside of Mike Rizzo knows what Mike Rizzo is thinking and when he is going to pull the plug on Stephen Strasburg.

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We Now Return you to your Regularly Scheduled Strasburg Shutdown

Stephen Strasburg is being shutdown. That is unless Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras are willing to backtrack on what they have both been saying for the entire season. Strasburg wants to pitch and has said he feels fine, the Nats would have to pry the ball out of his hands, and that he has plenty left in the tank. Mike Rizzo does things for the long term success of the franchise, and when it comes to issues of a medical nature it is always better to be safe than sorry. So, unless something drastic and unforeseen happen Strasburg is being shutdown. 

As it stands right now John Lannan would be the pitcher that would replace Strasburg in the rotation, but it may not be Lannan, and it may not even be a pitcher currently in the Nats system. Consider this idea. The non-waiver trade deadline came to an end on July 31 without the Nats being able to find a pitcher that could make 2-3 starts at the end of the season, and the Nats at this point would be foolish to trade for the type of pitcher that could clear waivers and remove Detwiler from the rotation. 

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The Power of Hindsight and Strasburg's Innings

This is again a test of our memories. A journey back to what we thought and what was expected of the Washington Nationals. It is August 19 and the Nationals stand just 12 wins away from matching the win total most predicted they would end up with at season's end. In order for the Nationals to finish with that win total and no better they would have to play .285 baseball in their remaining 42 games. With the way the Nationals have played all season long that seems unlikely. 

Instead of thinking all the way back to the beginning of the season instead think of April. Think about how the Nationals couldn't score runs, and kept winning games on odd plays like wild pitches, or how in April four of the five Nationals starters had ERA's under 2.00. If that low scoring great pitching month did anything it confirmed the thoughts that the Nationals were no better than an 86 win team. That the Nationals were a team built with a 90 win pitching staff and a 70 win offense. Things have changed a bit since then. The pitching staff has fallen off a bit, but still is pitching at a level of excellence while the offense has risen to being one of the better ones in baseball. 

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The Strasburg Conundrum

In many ways, I don’t know jack about baseball. I’m relatively new to the sport, having developed an interest after losing a bet involving the Phillies, a team which I predicted to suck back in early ’08. Of course, I didn’t know that they didn’t suck because I’d last paid attention to them in 2004, the last year I was subject to all of my friends from Temple U. lamenting their lost cause. The other lost cause, that is—other than their football team. But that’s another story for another blog. This is a story about me knowing more about baseball than well-known sports pundits who manufacture controversy because they really don’t know how else to cover the team with the best record in baseball.
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Another Possible Shutdown: Jordan Zimmermann Edition

The main point of discussion over the past few days, namely from the national media, has been the Stephen Strasburg shutdown. Ultimately, as has been reported multiple times, he will be shut down and there will not be a discussion, although the conversation about it will continue well into the offseason. There is however, another Nationals starter who could use a shutdown. One who has been an absolute rock this season and would be sorely missed during a run through the playoffs[1]: Jordan Zimmermann.

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Strasburg's Innings and the Trade Deadline

Mike Rizzo came out the other day and said flat out that there is no number on Strasburg's innings limit and when it is time to make the call on when to shutdown the Nationals Ace that call will be on him. Everyone took that to mean that the Nats were backing off of the innings limit and were going to use Strasburg as long as possible, but there is another possibility. 

Over Strasburg's last five starts he is 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA. There are greater concerns than the stats that indicate Strasburg is not himself. On the season Strasburg has average just over 5 2/3 innings a start while in his last five starts he has average just over 5 innings. It is a small drop off and some of it is caused by only lasting three innings due to heat exhaustion in Atlanta, but the drop off in innings pitched isn't the only trouble. 

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