Nationals Baseball: Strasburg is not David Clyde

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strasburg is not David Clyde

Nor is he Kerry Wood, but at least that is on some level an interesting comparison. Nor is he Nolan Ryan, but that's for later.

People are super worried about Strasburg's health because they believe the future of the franchise rests on his shoulders. A bit of an overstatement, as one great pitcher can't do it all (see: Halladay, Roy) but he's very important nonetheless. In the new found effort to protect pitchers, with pitch counts and innings limits, we often get horribly dumb comments spouting from all sides.

In a question to Bill Ladson, someone compares Strasburg to David Clyde (potentially). Clyde was a couple months past his 18th birthday, having just completed a high school season where he was ridden like a cheap tricycle (we keep it clean on this blog even if it makes no sense!) when pressed into the majors. Strasburg will turn 22 mid season and has gradually been pitched more and more over the past 2 years in college. There is no reasonable comparison unless the Nats bring in Strasburg and have him toss like 250 innings.

As far as Kerry Wood, that's a little bit better comparison, but still off. Kerry would be over a year younger that Strasburg, and was also driven hard in high school. He would have been a wild thrower (more pitches per inning) and tossed onto a team vying for a Wild Card all year. It's a different arm in a different situation and different league mindset.

The more interesting part for me is that Kerry actually didn't seem to have a terribly unreasonable progression of innings in the minors. It was more at a younger age that Strasburg has seen, but I wouldn't be that offended if the Nats treated a high school pitcher like that. Now what matters more is the pitches thrown and like I said Wood was a bit wild. Strasburg is not. But still to me Wood looks in retrospect more like a ticking time bomb than a ruined arm. Of course with the Nats having Riggleman in place, the man that oversaw Wood in 1998, the comparisons are going to be made.

(side note #1 - Riggleman says he got pressure to keep Wood in all the time. One part of me thinks that this is in his head. The noted 6-inning 13K pull out never happened. Most of Wood's outings were 7 innings plus, and those that weren't seemed at a glance to have logical reasons for cutting Wood short like he sucked that day or the Cubs were up by 10. Most likely what is sticking in his head is the 7-inning, 13K game right after the Astros masterpiece. I could see him getting complaints from people wanting Kerry to get a chance for back to back amazing games, but does that constitute the pressue Riggleman talks about? Of course, the other part of me knows how stupid fans can be during a pennant race. A 20 yr old's arm isn't of prime concern to most. )

(side note #2 - I hate how when they ask pitchers about "babying arms" they always ask hall-of-famers like Nolan Ryan or Greg Maddux. Just in general people are going to connect what they did before to what happened after. So if you ask successful guys that pitched a lot in the minors how they got successful of course they are going to say "pitching a lot in the minors". But they didn't just ask successful people, they asked the most successful people. Men who were in the Top 0.01% of all pitchers in the history of the major leagues, who had freakish ability and health. It would be like if I countered this by interviewing #1 draft picks who threw a lot in the minors and had their arms fly off into the stands and now have to eat with hooks what they thought. It's completely biased information and therefore practically useless by itself. )

Strasburg is also not Nolan Ryan, but isn't it great to have 100% crazy optimistic "Don't say who Strasburg is like because it might jinx him. Ok HE'S LIKE NOLAN RYAN! He could fail like Ben McDonald, BUT HE MAKES BEN MCDONALD LOOK LIKE A PILE OF PUKE SO HE CAN'T FAIL!" Boz back?

(side note #3 - best thing the Nats did this offseason? Bring in Davey Johnson. He's like the anti-Boz. Reasonable in his comments. Understands that Strasburg is very good but might not be the best thing ever just yet. Thank you, Davey)


Bryan said...

Is Strasburg the team (ala Halladay)? No.

But its better, much better, to start from a place with a Halladay and nothing else than it is to start from a place with a Detweiler and nothing else.

No, Strasburg won't make the team great himself, but his failure could set it back pretty badly (how do you set a club this bad back?) for a while. Its much easier to build around a great pitcher.

As for the asking and answering. Its like when they ask old people how they lived so long or celebrities how they keep their skin so nice/body so thin. They always have some fanciful answer about routines and drinking water with some special herb in it. Unless they are a comedian, they never say the honest answer, which is "I don't know and pure luck."

Harper said...

Does a great Strasburg make the team much better? Yes. Does a bad Strasburg ruin this teams chances of being a playoff team in say 2013 on? It really shouldn't. It makes it potentially a bunch more expensive but it shouldn't ruin it - that's all I'm saying.

The asking thing - usually though those are fluff questions asked by quasi-reporters and you disregard the answers. For this topic it's serious reporters acting like these are serious well thought-out answers.

Bryan said...

"It makes it potentially a bunch more expensive."

You can end that sentence right there. At that point you are set back to the point of potential failure.

Unless the team has some young stars that really develop and force the teams hand, because I'm not convinced they would go get a Halladay otherwise.

Anonymous said...


Harper said...

So because the Nats have shown a history of being cheap the development of a youn top of the rotation starter is mission critical for the Nats? (re: CHEEEEEEEEP)

Ok I can buy that.