Yesterday C. Trent Rosecrans of CBS Sportsline posted an article about whether Stephen Strasburg could win the 2012 NL Cy Young if the Washington Nationals shut him down early this season. First off, Strasburg while indeed putting up Cy Young quality stats, has to hope that Matt Cain and R.A. Dickey fade, because as good as Strasburg has been, Cain and Dickey have been better.
To me, if Dickey can throw his knuckle ball the way he’s doing it during the hot humid summer months, no one is going to catch him. He’s just too unique and there isn’t any way opposing players can practice hitting against a knuckleball that’s thrown that hard because there isn’t anyone else that does that. Anyone who has had the opportunity to sit down and watch a New York Mets game when Dickey has pitched this season knows what I’m talking about. The baseball approaches the batter moving like a wiffle-ball at about 78 mph giving the batter almost no chance to take a good swing. Any balls that do get hit hard are simply ones where the ball happens to move to where the batter is swinging. What effect the hot humid weather has on his knuckle ball remains to be seen. It’s worth pointing out that the one game Dickey pitched on a humid rainy day on April 18th against the Atlanta Braves he gave up 8 runs in just 4.1 innings.
Cain seems to be putting it all together as a pitcher and the San Francisco Giants are certainly getting their money’s worth out of him, which had to be a tough decision to make based on the fact that they are still dealing with the cost / value they are getting out of the Barry Zito contract. If Dickey falters and Cain pitches the entire season at this pace I don’t see how Strasburg can win the award if he stops pitching. Cain’s impressive cumulative numbers will continue to pile up separating him from Strasburg if that were to happen.
Thinking about all of this leads me to the question, “what the hell are the Washington Nationals thinking?” I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t limit Strasburg’s innings, but if they are going to do that, why wouldn’t they have just sat him for the first two months of the year? Better yet, why wouldn’t they have pitched him out of bull pen the first half of the year? Their closer went down and they needed a closer anyway, they could have filled a need while limiting his innings. And if the answer to that is they didn’t want his arm to have to deal with one-two inning at a time outings with short rest in between, again, they could have just had him show up to work on June 1st.
Summer has started and the Nats are three games in front in the NL East and have a real possibility of making the playoffs; and they are going possibly to do so without the guy who is being talked about as a possible Cy Young candidate? A guy who some argue is the very best pitcher in the game today?
To me this whole thing is backwards. If someone can explain to me why it’s better for Strasburg to pitch his 160-180 innings at the beginning of the season rather that at the end, possibly including the playoffs, I’d like to hear the rational. And it’s not too late to make this right either. The Nats could simply shut him down now for a few weeks if they wanted to and bring him back in the second half. And if they are worried about him getting rusty, then they simply move him to the bull pen and use him in games to get his work in on days they would have had him throw a handful of pitches on the side to get his work it.
I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.