Nationals Baseball: Strasburn

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Strasburn

Strasburg is on the DL with elbow soreness. This was after the Nats said repeatedly that everything was fine and he wasn't hurt. It may be true that this isn't a serious injury but given that the Nats haven't been forthcoming at all (nor need they be, mind you) there isn't any good reason to believe them.

Well, perhaps there is - Tommy John injuries are usually preceded by a loss in velocity - or at least that's what we've been told.  You know I hate "just saying things".  Nate Eovaldi just underwent surgery. Let's check out his velocity. Check. Down to 94 in his last game from the 97-98 range.  That's promising I guess. Let's grab some other recent starters that had TJ mideseason.  I see Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Homer Bailey. Lynn no. He did have the dreaded "forearm tightness" in early June and missed two starts but continued to pitch the rest of the year with no discernable change in speed - at least not to me. Granted Lynn is not a power guy, averaging around 93 MPH.  Alex Cobb... looks like that injury happened in ST, so no stats.  Bailey?  Yes. Down at 93.5 then 90 for a guy that was more a 95-96 type. Oh Jason Vargas, what about you? Yes. Down to 86 from 88+.

It seems like something is here but that Lynn one bothers me. He did get in in the offseason, but it's not like he was pitching much from the playoffs to Halloween to explain it. Let's look at some more. Jose Fernandez? Maybe. It was down but not as much as some of these others. Ivan Nova? Not particularly, not as convincing as Fernandez. Matt Moore? Again maybe? Let's end with Matt Harvey. If you are going to compare anyone to Strasburg, he seems the most fitting. Looking at the velocity, I would say yes. Like Fernandez it wasn't a sudden large drop but the average velocity was down at the end. If you are looking for the trend you see it.

OK so I guess I'd say yes. I don't think it's impossible that we don't see a drop in velocity but it does seem that you usually do. However the 95 MPH guy suddenly throwing 90 and grabbing his elbow isn't a given. Sometimes it's more subtle. Sometimes it's more of a drop over time as opposed to a singular event. So what about Strasburg? There is a VERY subtle drop from early in the year. Usually guys take a couple starts to warm up. This year Stras would get to 96+ by the end of April and he topped out at 97 on May 19th. Since July 8th though he hasn't topped 96 as an average and he even went under 95 for a game. The latter is not unheard of - he did it once last year, three times in 2014. But the former... a streak like that he's only done once. In 2014 he went a full 12 games without breaking 96 for an average fastball speed. That seems more like a concerted effort than an injury given he was faster before and after.

What about other Nats?  Do I see any gradual season long VERY subtle drops? Max - no. Stable. Gio - no. Actually going up. Tanner - maybe? What about other years? Does Strasburg just slow down typically over the course of a year? 2015 - No. 2014 - No. 2013 - No.

I'm going to have to stop now but what I was trying to do was eliminate the possibility that this is a big bad Tommy John surgery type injury and I'm afraid I cannot. Strasburg has not had a quick noticeable drop in velocity. That is good - it would clearly indicate an issue. But that itself doesn't eliminate the possibility. Clearly noticeable drops in velocity don't happen every time. Sometimes the drop is more gradual and limited. Rarely you don't see it at all. The latter though seems pretty rare, especially for a power pitcher. Therfore, if Strasburg had no drop in velocity I wouldn't be worried at all. But I do see a drop in velocity. Not a big one, I'd even struggle to call it a small one. But there is that very slight trend down. If I were able to dismiss that as a "all pitchers have that happen over course of season" or "Strasburg always slows down" that would help, but neither of those is true.

So do I think this is a major injury? I have no idea. But I can't say with certainty that I believe it's not one. I'm just waiting in the dark like I was as a 12 year old getting info from the nightly news and daily paper. 

29 comments:

G Cracka X said...

Are there other factors we can look at to help us discern the mystery? WaPo reports that he was 'playing catch for two days after the injury'. And they don't seem to be in a rush to get an MRI

cass said...

Release point gets talked about and there was talk about that to explain his struggles as a mechanical issue before the injury, but usually when it's release point, it's a lower arm slot which wasn't happening here. I'm no expert on this, though.

I think we'll all be worried till we see him pitching dominantly again. And even then this will still be in the back of our minds. So it goes.

Harper said...

Velocity drop is the big one. Even for some that I mentioned as not having it happen for a game it happened for a few pitches near end game like Fernandez. Strasburg had none of that. The Lynn example though bothers me because it suggests a small tear might be something you can fight through.

I take it that for whatever reason (cost? health risk?) you don't want to just go get MRIs at the drop of a hat. They'd have one from early May so they are trusting that one - though seems like a lot can happen in 3+ months. They'll probably wait to see if the discomfort goes away by end of DL stint.

Harper said...

Basically if forced to put money on this I'm betting that it's NOT a major injury. But I would have to be forced to put money on this. (Unlike say - betting the Nats will win the NL East)

Anonymous said...

The most frustrating thing by far about rooting for this team is that their first instinct is always to lie about absolutely everything.

PotomacFan said...

I don't think they lie. They just keep the truth to themselves. I think all teams do that, and I don't blame them. Now Bill Belichick is another story ....

Anonymous said...

Assume every team is lying about pretty much everything and you'll be right an amazing percentage of the time.

Josh Higham said...

I agree with Anonymous 8:08's underlying point, that we have no reason to believe anything the Nats say, but I agree with the next two comments, too. As an economist, I doubt almost everything people say, and almost nothing that they put their money behind, if profits (and wins are analogous, here) are concerned. So far, the Nats haven't sunk much money or many win shares into this "Strasburg isn't badly hurt" story, so I'm doubtful.

Mick said...

So, Harper, back to your "putting money on it" comment: you still call the Nats winning the NL East with confidence. Can you explain how this injury impacts that decision for you even if it doesn't change it? I imagine you'd say that even if the Nats go through a rough stretch, you don't believe the Marlins can play well enough to catch up.

Froggy said...

I think it is a long season and Strasburg is tired and could use a breather. Simple as that.

Froggy said...

I think it is a long season and Strasburg is tired and could use a breather. Simple as that.

Robot said...

@Mick - "Calling it" is irrevocable. Harper called it; it is thus called and cannot be uncalled.

I, for one, blame Harper personally for the Stras injury. Let's just hope his calling it doesn't have any other consequences.

Anonymous said...

I told Baseball owners to cut the season to 130 games. But they are so greedy. They are willing to put inferior product on field rather than be practical. These players are not Robots and prone to injuries and the 162 games season is way to long.

Dr Andrews..

Miles Treacy said...

can't we just sign tebow? guaranteed title.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't want to hear this "he's tired" stuff. Quit making excuses for this guy. He just turned 28, he's in the prime of his professional career, and he's being very well compensated to keep himself in good basic physical condition.

He should be no more tired than Tanner Roark or Max Scherzer or Daniel Murphy or Wilson Ramos or any of the hundreds of other guys in the major leagues who are playing regularly. He's not even a position player for crying out loud!

Zimmerman11 said...

@Harper... the MRIs aren't so good when there's inflammation, right? I agree, they're gonna let him rest, and then reassess as he tries to wind it back up for the stretch run. At that point if there's still inflammation and pain, then the MRI and potentially a longer DL stint.

The Mat Latos signing makes me worry about the Nats' truthiness.

John C. said...

DOOOOOOOOOOOM!

Of course we can't rule out a serious injury; hell, we couldn't really do that even if we had access to all of the medical information. Someone isn't there, it's next man up until that person gets back. Nats have more, and better, options for that than most teams.

The Nationals signed Matt Latos in June. At the time Strasburg was one of the leading candidates for the Cy Young and would be for several more weeks. It's hard to see how the two are related at all. I'd say it's more likely that Latos was Gio insurance in case Lopez and Giolito flopped.

Anon at 12:04 is a classic internet tough guy.

Froggy said...

Boy, without Turner and Bryce this team is drifting in the Sargasso sea of poor base running.

PJI said...

Should have signed Desmond.

dj said...

Why does it feel like we are in last place???

Jay said...

Don't look now but Ramos is headed back to earth. He is now 3 for his last 26, including 1 for his last 17. He is hitting .265 for the month of August. For the last week or so everything is a ground ball to SS or 3B. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. The real question - do you sign him long term now? A catcher hitting .265 or .270 is vastly different than one hitting over .300. Hopefully, he pulls out of it and starts hitting again. Also, it seems Severino called a better game and did a better job framing pitches, but that is purely subjective on my part.

JE34 said...

@Jay: Severino struggled a bit defensively - Ramos is better on that front - but Severino's bat looked a whole lot better than Lobaton's has. Vote for Pedro. All our dreams will come true.

WiredHK said...

I would love to see Ramos get a bunch of time off in these last 40 games, honestly. This is the point in the season where the wear and tear can really drain a catcher I would think. Sit that man and let him freshen up a bit.

As for Stras, assuming this isn't a major injury, this is probably the very best part of the season to have him out for a little while. After the O's, my God, we play an endless string of crap...ahem...the NL East.

Cheers to Harper calling it (and despite being right, calling on the baseball Gods to smack the shit out of us with injury and losses)!

Ole PBN said...

I think you'd have to re-sign Ramos. Who are we going to get that's better than him and worth a steeper asking price? Either that and we just go with the far lesser talent in Severino for pennies. I don't think Ramos hitting like he has this season is a fluke. I think he's a .280-.290 hitter and his power is on full display as it should have been all those years he was hurt. He controls the run game fairly well, calls a good game (3 no-hitters and a 20k game), improved his strike-out rate and hit for power. Other than Posey or Lucroy, no one I'd rather have right now behind the dish than the Buffalo.

NotBobby said...

When rosters expand, i would hope Ramos ge5s three or four days off in a row. His legs need the rest.

Ole PBN said...

Not mentioned here, but in the past, people have ripped on Rizzo. Here is what it looks like to an outsider: (from a town that has had quite a lot of success)

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2016/08/20/the-time-red-sox-got-one-over-mike-rizzo/4jOlHw15pQMM8K95v8f05K/story.html

SM said...

@ Ole PBN

A little farther down in the Boston Globe article on Rizzo is a piece on umpire--and theologian and former boxer!--Ted Barrett.

Perhaps it's a harmonious convergence with something I recently asked about--public ratings of umpiring crews--but there it was, one of those totally unexpected, if tangential, appendages to my inquiry.

Since 1999, Ted Barrett has been behind the plate for one no-hitter and two perfect games.
(That's 25% of all perfect games since 1999.)

He is the only umpire in Major League history to call two perfect games.

Maybe Rizzo can work out a deal to have Barrett umpire only Nationals' games.

SM said...

. . . and Barrett's behind the plate for Roark tonight. (Rizzo's amazing, isn't he?)

JE34 said...

Et tu, Tanner?

I hate it when Charlie and Dave sound depressed.