Nationals Baseball: Falling over ourselves to accept nonsense

Monday, April 01, 2013

Falling over ourselves to accept nonsense

Bryce hit two home runs.  Strasburg was awesome.  The rest of the team?  Ehhhh but whatever. It's not like every game everyone is going to be awesome. That's the point of having great starters and a deep offense. We'll see where everyone is standing at the end of the series, just to get a real early feel. One game is just one game.

Now to the story.

Davey pulled Strasburg after 80 pitches.  Was it the right move?


I mean, come on, let's be serious here. It wasn't. 

But at the same time it's not a big deal. The reason you want your starter to go later in games is because he's better than the alternative.  If he pitches it's less likely that he'll give up runs than the next guy.  But the Nats have a great bullpen so the drop off isn't severe. It's April against a team that isn't going to challenge them for a playoff spot. It's a team that looks to be so inept on offense that a comeback seemed pretty unlikely. The Nats could afford to make this move.

Still that doesn't mean we then have to swallow whatever it is the Nats feed us.

Greg Dobbs! 

Ed - This section no longer applicable.  Early info was Clip to face Dobbs without the "over Storen" part.  With that addendum the move Clip v Storen makes sense gets (though really 3 singles in 5 at bats is also not enough info stat wise)

One theory that Davey put out there was that Clippard was put in in case they had to face Greg Dobbs.  Let me state that again, Davey wants you to believe that they pulled Strasburg at 80 pitches for Tyler Clippard IN CASE THEY HAD TO FACE GREG DOBBS.

Here's Greg Dobbs.  Not exactly fear inspiring, is he?

Ok well he must rule Strasburg then right? And Clippard must own him right? Sort of.

Dobbs v Clippard  1-10, 3K
Dobbs v Strasburg 4-14, 1 2B, 4K

Clippard does better but the at bats are so limited we really shouldn't draw any conclusions just from the stats.  Could a scout there on the ground notice something that makes them worried?  I suppose, but here are the things :
  • you can always remove Strasburg when Greg Dobbs comes up to pinch hit
  • it wasn't even guaranteed that he would come up in the inning.
So really I don't see how you can take this to be anything but nonsense


So Davey offered another explanation to Jason Reid. They didn't want to push him and possibly put him in a position to fail. Already, when you get to your 2nd explanation of the day, you have to be kind of doubtful.  

"I’ve always believed in getting something positive [from young pitchers]. I wasn’t going to give it a chance to turn into something negative.”

Of course Reid just takes that at face value but what exactly does that mean? I mean, I know what it means, but it provides nothing hard and fast to explain why he was pulled at that moment. He had a positive standing after 6. Why not then? It was positive after 5. Why not then? What made the 7th so special? What did he think it would provide an opportunity for him to fail that made him pull the trigger? Was his stuff faltering in the 6th? Has he shown tendency to tire early in cool weather? Or early in the year? Why?

Also throughout the article you read things like this :
  • "There was no good reason for Johnson to push Strasburg to the eighth or ninth"
  • "...but it wasn’t the right moment to break through a barrier"
  • "Why push him just to push him? You’re going to make him throw a hundred pitches just to throw a hundred pitches?"
What barrier?!?  How are you pushing him!?!  He was at 80 pitches! Eighty!! Eight!!! Zero!!!! Ochenta!

Strasburg pitched in 28 games last year.  He threw more than 80 pitches in 24 of them. In 3 of those 4 where he was pulled, he was getting knocked around early. He threw more than 90 pitches in 20 of them. He threw more than 100 in 10 of them. 

By only pitching him eighty pitches you weren't keeping him from running into a "barrier" or being unnecessarily pushed, you were babying him, keeping him under a limit that he passed nearly every time out last year.

Is there something in here that could hint at a more believable reason?  I think so.  At one point Davey said this
it’s not just going to be [for show].
In other words, if Strasburg is going to go deeper into games it's going to be because they NEED him to go deeper into games. If he can get through 6 or 7 and the pen is rested, then it doesn't matter if he's at 80 pitches or 60 pitches. He'll be pulled and the relief staff will go in.  This isn't something that can be done for every pitcher.  You just can't work a pen like that, but there's a chance that for Strasburg this is going to be the norm going forward.  That it's not 100 pitches that's the limit, it's 100 pitches OR until he get deep enough that Davey feels safe going to the pen. Could this mean pulled after 6 at 69 pitches because the team is up 7-1?  Maybe.  We'll have to see.

This isn't a forever plan, I don't think. Eventually he does have to be stretched - as you'll want that golden arm going as deep as possible into games in October. You don't want to train him to be an 80 pitch pitcher. But we'll see how that stretching out works out on the field.


cass said...

I listened to the interview, and Davey's response about Dobbs was in response to a question about why Clippard was used instead of Storen. He said he pulled Strasburg because it was Opening Day and all that nonsense you mentioned.

I was disappointed because I really thought Strasburg might be able to pitch his first complete game shutout, which would be really cool. But alas. Strasburg is on an innings limit to save him for the playoffs. They just won't say it. But it's there. He will almost never be allowed to pitch in the 8th.

I do wish they had rewarded him for his efficiency today. That's not gonna happen all the time. But it's not a huge deal longterm. Just would have been nice to see a CG Shutout since they don't happen very often and Strasburg would have liked to get one and we would have liked to see it. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

After worrying about Strasburg's health and long term value so much, don't the Nats HAVE to resign him? It seems pretty foolish to go to such lengths to keep him healthy and have another team reap the benefits.

BlueLoneWolf said...

...Complaining that a starting pitcher got pulled for a bullpen in the seventh inning in a shutout after only 80 pitches is such a small potatoes gripe it seems. Yes, Strasburg needs to be stretched a bit and he probably could've gone on longer, but meh, get everyone some live practice and let the pitchers warm up into better game shape more. The fact that we're complaining about it is just a symptom of the fact that, dang it, we're the Nats and they're the Marlins and (Best Bob Ryan imitation) THEY STINK! We win 2-0, and I'm not going to start complaining about our lack of hitting against Nolasco- who, incidentally, had our number last year- and take the win and move on. 1 down, 161 to go.

Anonymous said...

75 out of 164 games are against: Marlins, Cubs, Pirates, Twins, Rockies, Indians, Royals, Mets, Padres.

Other teams wavering (long series: (3)Diamondbacks, (19)Phillie's, (4)Brewers


Alex said...

Has anyone done a piece yet on what the Elvis Andrus extension means to the MLB marketplace? Does a Boras client agreeing to a long-term extension signify a new stance on the part of that agency, or is it simply a one-off anomaly? I only ask because a change in operating procedures would have obvious implications on the Nats' future plans.

Christopher Stevenson said...

Where does 80 pitches compare to his spring training pitch counts? Probably pretty close. So to me, why would you arbitrarily push him out 15-20% of his prior pitch count because it's the regular season, but the week prior you'd shut him down at 75 or 80?

It's the first game of the year, the Nats one. This seems like a gripe in search of something.

Froggy said...

Fellas, fellas...It was the first game of the season! Bryce went yard twice and Straus pitched a 7 inning gem. Span got a hit, Desmond beat out a throw for a hit and Ramos played great in the 8 hole.

Can't we just enjoy our 3/4 full glass of beer for once without complaining? I wouldn't read too much into Straus just doing 80 pitches just yet. Talk to me in a month after we have seen a trend. Besides it was nice to see Soriano come in and demonstrate how a real closer does business.

The bigger issue was how woefully inept the concessions were at the stadium yesterday. The DC based employee pool simply does not understand customer service and hustle. Took me two and a half innings to get two beers and 2 hot dogs.

Anonymous said...

I am with Cass. I believe he is at about a 200 inning limit for the regular season. That is what they did with Zimmermann. They don't want to jump from 160 to 250 if they go deep in the playoffs.


cass said...

I was a wonderful game, and I imagine Harper agrees. He just feels like no one is questioning these decisions or the explanations. Which the writers for the big papers aren't, really. But it also wasn't a big deal. Though after Clippard's first walk, I really wondered if Davey had just made a big mistake.

Concessions were fine for me. I got eats before the ceremony and then people were bringing food and drink to the stands throughout the game - and I was in the 400 section. Was kinda impressed they had vendors up there.

I was also impressed by the view, given that I was in the nether reaches. There really isn't a bad seat in the park.

Donald said...

I agree with Davey on this one. If you keep Strasburg in, more outcomes lead to trouble. He had struggled just a bit in the 7th. If he starts off the 8th and lets a batter on, when do you pull him? And pulling him mid-inning not only has him leaving on a low note, but stresses the pen more. If he doesn't struggle in the 8th, you figure his pitch count is going to be in the mid 90's but now the pressure is really on to leave him in so he can notch his first complete game shut-out. But if you do that, he's pushed way over 100 pitches the first time out.

Better to do what Davey decide, in my opinion. Also, I think Cass is correct in that Davey was explaining why Clippard over Storen in regard to Dobbs, rather than why he pulled Stras.

Donald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harper said...

cass - yeah caught that this morning. Early tweets had the Dobbs thing out there and I was reading with blinders I guess.

I don't like this 8th inning limit idea. If he's at 80 pitches there should be gas left in the tank. Pitches should decide.

Anon #1 - Not necessarily. The goal is to win the WS. If they do that (especially more than once) before he goes then I think letting him go is fine. If they don't then I agree, they need to keep him... but we're looking too far into the future here. This is a 2015 topic.

BLW - Completely small potatoes, but it just kind of threw a wrench into what could have been a perfect day.

Anon #2 - noted. The extra two games will help.

Alex - Haven't seen something like that, no.

CS - It is probably pretty close, which questions why everyone usually bumps up just because it's April 1. But just say that. We'd be cool.

If I wanted to search for a gripe I'd talk about first game stats and how the Nats offense is struggling.

Froggy - Minor complaint. They just served my beer in the wrong glass. (and it was frosted!) But I want it noted to the waitress for next time.

CP - Sure. and that's fine. Just say it. And now please because this will just keep coming up until they do.

cass - yes. There's a bit too much deference. It's one thing to say "Here's there reason. Here's the opposition. We choose to accept their reason." That was the shutdown. It's another to say "They didn't really give a good reason. We won't note any opposition. We choose to accept"

Donald - again fine, but say that "He struggled a bit in the 7th and I didn't want to have to pull him mid inning" is a fine explanation. Some (like me) would still be saying Strasburg should have pitched the 8th but I could accept that difference in opinion pretty easily. We shouldn't have to read into things.

USMC53 said...

Davey is playing the long game. It's all about September/October for him. He did the same thing all last year, often pulling his startes (not just Strasburg) after 6 or 7 innings, even when they were going good. The more he can let his bullpen close out the last 2 or 3 innings, the more he's going to do it, because he doesn't want tired starters in September/October. Sorry if you didn't like it, but get used to it.

Sec314 said...

I just thought Davey wisely wanted to get Clippard and Soriano some work.

The most important thing for me yestersday was Soriano's dominant close. After his rocky ST, I was glad to see that!

Harper said...

USMC - I don't like it... if it continues all year. I want Strasburg in the 7th/8th not Storen or Clippard. I want ZNN able to grind out a 6th in a particularly tough high pitches thrown start to save the pen an inning. But we'll revisit at the all-star break or something.

Sec 314 - Ok I guess. Personally I think working them into one of the next two games would be enough.

Strasburger said...

Plus- you gotta think the big three are going to be good enough this year to go the distance probably a NL leading amount of times, so maybe Davey is thinking.. "at some point our super strong pen needs to pitch". I mean we're so deep with arms, why not throw in Clip and Soriano? They are just as poised to win in the opening day position, in my opinion.

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