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.
Ed - This section no longer applicable.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 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?"
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.