Strasburg though is different. He's had 4 starts so far with one mediocre outing and two certified stinkers. Strasburg started 30 games last year. If you use Game Score (a rough way of ranking game performance based on various things) these 2014 games would have ranked 21st, 28th and 29th last year. In other words he's thrown out a whole lotta bad in a short period of time. The million dollar question is why?
Of course the problem with trying to diagnose the problem this early is that you have enough variation in stats that things can change dramatically in one start. Broad, macro level ideas are just coming into focus while micro-details still are fuzzy. Add to that there are thousands of ways to attack pitching data. Is his velocity down? Is his location off? Is one particular pitch less effective? Is it a certain type of batter that's causing the problem? Is it a certain type of situation?
Is it both velocity and location for a certain type of pitch to a certain type of batter in a certain type of situation?
Gah - so teasing out information that's meaningful just from data points is hard at this point. Here's what I feel ok with saying.
- There really hasn't been a change in overall mix of pitches thrown... factoring in the slider.
- He is missing more bats (contact rate both in and out of the zone are way down) - but he's missing for two reasons; his strikeout rate is up 14.1 K/9 vs his career 10.6(good), his walk rate is up 3.9 BB/9 vs career 2.6 (bad). The bad here is worse than the good.
- His velocity is down but he's still very fast.
Last year (thanks to F/X by Texas Leaguers)
You're looking from the catcher's POV. There's a distinct grouping a little bit on the outer half of the plate when throwing low. (up high it mattered less) This year?
Way less data but you can see he's missing that outer half of the plate spotting he had last year. What about the curve? That's getting hit hard too. Last year
He was in the zone alot but mostly nailing low and away off the plate. This year
It's not getting off the plate enough.
Now I can't say anything for certain. Look at the number of pitches we're dealing with for this year. It's tiny. Plus I don't even know if the above include last nights game. (I think so) But given the things I feel good about saying - this makes sense and honestly it's nothing special in terms of analysis. He's wilder than he's ever been so far this year. That means he's not hitting his spots. Part of that is leading to more walks. Part of that is leading to balls left over the plate.
This is the easy part. The hard part is figuring out why he's wilder and fixing that. Good luck with that one, McCatty.