Name: Stephen Strasburg
Position: Starting Pitcher
The expectations were simple for the flame throwing right-hander. We all expected him to go out and win at least 15 games, while lead the Nationals back to the playoffs. His 2012 season was cut short, because of an innings limit, which a lot of us didn’t like to see happen, but the front office is playing for the future.
To go along with the 15 wins, we expected an ERA around 3.00 with a WHIP around 1.00. We all have seen the way Strasburg can throw the baseball. He can strike guys out before they even notice the at-bat has started. He is that good.
In previous seasons we have seen him leave a lot of runners on base, so 2013 shouldn’t be any different. He should be able to leave around 70% of runners on the base paths throughout the entire season.
Lastly we expect him to have a great FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching, on an ERA scale). This stat shows what the pitcher can control and bases his statistic off of that. He does a great job of controlling, what he can control and getting batters out when needed. His FIP in 2012 was 2.82, so I would expect it to be around 2.90 in 2013.
The results were very different from the expectations, for Strasburg. He didn’t end up getting those 15 wins as he finished the season with a losing record of 8-9. I’m not big on the win/loss totals of pitchers, but I expect Strasburg to be in the game in the 8th inning almost every time out. That gives him a better chance to get the win, but I would rather the team get the win, than leave a starter out there and take the chance of getting a loss.
Something to do with that could be the amount of run support, but I still believe he should have been better. In my opinion the reason for his struggles were, he has yet to learn how to really pitch with a 95 mph fastball. His fastball has dropped two mph in velocity since he has come to the big leagues. It may not seem like much, but to a hitter 95 is a lot more hittable than 97.
Another thing is his swing and miss percentage. On balls inside the strike zone a hitter only swings and misses 10.6% of the time. A hitter made contact with Strasburg’s pitches 76.2% in 2013. That is a huge percentage for a guy that throws that hard. His fastball is flat and straight and he rarely throws his two-seam (12.2%). He used his curveball and change-up a combined 37.4% of the time in 2013. That just tells you he relies on his fastball a lot and it isn’t what it used to be.
Don’t get me wrong, Strasburg had a very good season on the mound. It just wasn’t what we expected. He did get his first complete game and shutout of his career, as we hope for more of those in the future. He was a little wild at times, hitting 12 batters throughout the season, tripling his 2012 total. Don’t be alarmed Strasburg is still one of the best pitchers in the National League.
A Stephen Strasburg 2014 season could go something like this. He could and should throw 200 innings for the first time and strikeout 200 batters. I expect him to not rely on his fastball as much and trust his off-speed stuff more than ever. His walk numbers will once again be down as he does a great job of keeping the ball in the strike zone.
One thing surprising could be the swing and miss percentage I mentioned earlier. Using more off-speed will keep hitters off balance and give him more swings and misses and likely more strikeouts. That will be something to keep tabs on throughout the season. His WHIP will be around 1 once again, and his FIP I’m predicting will be the best of his career.
He is coming out wanting to prove himself all over again and he will have a career year. There will be no holding him back this season, and I expect him to not hold himself back. Be ready Nats fans, Stephen Strasburg is on a mission.