Strasburg an All-Star? Not a Very Funny Joke
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With the permission of just one man, Phillies manager (and NL skipper) Charlie Manuel, Stephen Strasburg will be headed to Anaheim to pitch in the 2010 MLB All-Star game, just seven starts into his big league career. Strasburg’s pitching “stuff” is legendary: you just wonder how a guy like that ever made it 1) out of the grasp of MLB teams out of high school in the first place, and 2) to San Diego State University to play for Aztec head baseball coach, Tony Gwynn.
Strasburg threw for SDSU for three years, gaining national notoriety in the second, and then improving to pitch himself into a household name as a college junior. Strasburg entered the major league baseball rule IV amateur draft a polished, potentially finished product. A year’s time passed between Strasburg’s drafting and his major league debut, but what he accomplished in the minor leagues for about 11 starts at AA and later AAA was pretty legendary: former major league baseball players went down against Strasburg in just three pitches. To make solid enough contact to hit a foul ball back to the screen, these accomplished hitters needed to outguess Strasburg.
His remarkable strikeout rate has held up strong at the major league level, but outside of his uncanny control, Strasburg has hit his fair share of struggles in the majors. While it says something about the kid that he’s yet to run into a lineup that has stymied him to the point where he couldn’t find a way to record outs and progress the game, Strasburg has also faced the following lineups in the majors:
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Cleveland Indians
- Chicago White Sox
- Kansas City Royals
- Atlanta Braves
Strasburg hasn’t won since the Indians game because he hasn’t gotten a single run of support since that day, but you’d also be hard pressed to find a major league pitcher that wouldn’t be able to do exactly what Strasburg has against those teams, minus the obscene strikeout rate and tough luck. The Atlanta Braves sport the one above average major league lineup from that bunch, and when they faced Strasburgh, they figured him out the third time through the lineup, made the adjustments, and blew his quality start — chasing him from the game in the 7th — and handed him his second loss. Strasburg is neither the first nor the last pitcher to hold the Royals to a single run in six innings. He will not be the last pitcher to strike out a bunch of Pirates, or beat the Indians in fairly unimpressive fashion.
He’s a remarkable story and a very bright hope for a Nationals team that needs him, but — perhaps due to luck — Strasburg hasn’t quite accomplished anything since he stormed onto the scene with 14 Ks against the Pirates in his debut. Hey, for a 21 year old rookie, we probably shouldn’t expect the world from him right away. His stuff is electric, and he can clearly command it at the major league level. He’s going to learn how to pitch, because he was ahead of the curve in college, and already knows how to pitch a minor league baseball game.
Should he pitch the major league All-star game? Of course not. The game is for remarkable major league pitchers, not remarkable stories. In the current offensive baseball environment, teams like the first three that Strasburg faced prior to his first lost…those teams aren’t scoring runs against any pitcher.
Without a doubt, this subject of this article will be good enough to consistently turn all-star hitters into outs, probably as soon as next season. He figures to pitch in ten+ all-star games, and if Charlie Manuel really feels that he’s not leaving anyone off the NL roster to put Strasburg on, I don’t have a huge problem with that. That would almost have to be a faulty conclusion, however. The National League has the best pitching of the two leagues this year, had the best pitching prior to Strasburg, and probably can’t justify him on the roster on merit.
A year from now, when Strasburg shuts down some of the better offenses in the NL, he’s going to earn his spot on the all-star team. This is a matter of time. At this time, let’s go with the 13 or so all-star pitchers who better deserve it, and not cost a National like Josh Willingham or Ryan Zimmerman a spot in the all-star game because we’re not actually paying attention to what’s going on in Washington four days a week.