Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg Bit By Home Run Bug
The Washington Nationals number two starter, Stephen Strasburg, is on the field, but not productive. The main culprit? Home runs.
The Washington Nationals dropped another game on Tuesday, falling back under .500 on the year.
On the hill was Stephen Strasburg, taking on one of Major League Baseball’s worst offenses in the San Francisco Giants.
Coming into the series, the Giants ranked 2nd to last in wRC+, slugging percentage, and last in wOBA.
Strasburg started out humming along, throwing five shutout innings. However, in the fifth and sixth innings, he surrendered three home runs en route to a 6 IP, 4 ER losing effort.
This is the second consecutive start in which the long ball bug has bitten Strasburg.
Against Philadelphia on April 9, Strasburg gave up two home runs, including one to Bryce Harper. He failed to make an out in the fifth inning while walking more batters than he struck out.
For years, the big issue with Strasburg has been his health. His body hasn’t cooperated with his goal of pitching 200 innings in a season.
Now, it may be his performance that prevents him from hitting that milestone, whether he is healthy or not.
So far in 2019, Strasburg has 22.2 innings pitched with a 5.56 ERA, a 4.46 FIP, and a 3.33 xFIP. His xFIP is elite, which isn’t surprising since the metric normalizes home run rate.
Strasburg’s peripherals are still excellent. His strikeout rate of 11.12 K/9 is higher than his career rate of 10.57, and he is allowing less than three walks per nine innings.
His BABIP is right around the league average, and his ground ball rate is up as well.
That leaves his absurd home run rates as the outliers.
His career HR/9 is 0.87, which is fantastic. Naturally, his HR/FB% of 11.4% is also outstanding. However, in the small sample in 2019, those numbers are out of whack.
His HR/9 is 1.99, and his HR/FB% is 23.8%.
Right now, we’re dealing with such a small sample size so it is hard if at all possible, to come to a reasonable conclusion as to if this trend will continue.
In June, if this trend continues, it will be time to panic a little bit. However, in April, let’s not let small sample sizes cloud our judgments.