Category Archives: Stephen Strasburg

Putting Strasburg’s Contract In Context


There’s been a lot said and written about Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175 million extension, and much of it is very good. I recommend Fangraphs, Nats Baseball and SB Nation as goodreads, but I want to add something extra here, which is a quick look at the Strasburg deal relative to the top 10 pitcher contracts ever.

Note: The innings pitched and ERA+ and FIP columns here are averages of the four seasons leading up to the deal in question. So, for Strasburg that’s 2012-15.

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Four thoughts/takeaways that jump out:

1. Accounting for inflation, Strasburg’s $25 million/year isn’t much for this group. Consider Sabathia, who got $23 million/year starting in 2009. That season, only nine teams had $100 million-plus payrolls. In 2016, that number has more than doubled to 21.

2. Strasburg’s much-chronicled injury concerns show up here in the form of 28% fewer innings than the others. Of course, this was an extraordinarily healthy group leading up to their deals. Verlander, Sabathia and Tanaka haven’t held up.

3. Strasburg is slightly younger (28) than the average (29).

4. Stras’ ERA+ (which adjusts for ballpark effects) is slightly worse than the rest of the group (122 vs. 135). His FIP (fielding independent pitching), however, is slightly better (2.96 vs. 3.08). Overall, he’s right in line, effectiveness-wise.

Bottom line: Of course injuries are a concern, but that’s why Washington was able to get him at this price. It’s a reasonable deal, and putting it next to other big-time pitcher contracts confirms that. Scherzer’s is a little troubling, though.

Still, With The Strasburg Shutdown


In an otherwise excellent Grantland piece outlining the Nationals for what they’re projected to be — a 100-win team, which is an increasingly rare creature in MLB — Rany Jazayerli strikes a nerve:

It is widely assumed within the industry that Boras was a driving force behind Rizzo’s worst decision as GM of the Nationals: shutting Strasburg down in September 2012 with the team barreling toward its first playoff berth since moving to Washington. It still makes no sense that the Nationals would jeopardize their postseason chances in order to theoretically protect Strasburg’s long-term health, but such is the cost of keeping Boras placated.

Regardless of Boras’ influence and what you think of Rizzo’s decision, the move made sense then and makes even more now. The facts:

*Strasburg was in his first full post-Tommy John season, and the plan heading in was to limit him to 160 innings.

*When Strasburg hit 160, in early September with the Nats up 6.5 games, he was shut down.

*Buzz bombs went off left and right about how silly the Nats were for this, especially as compared to Atlanta, which was in a similar situation with Kris Medlin. He was used in relief through July before moving to the rotation in August, effectively keeping his innings down.

*The Nats lost in the first round of the playoffs, dropping a heartbreaker to St. Louis. Strasburg’s would’ve-been start was given to Ross Detwiler, who pitched six innings, allowing one unearned run.

*The Cardinals were in that series because they beat the Braves in the Wild Card game. Medlin started and picked up the loss, allowing five unearned runs.

*In the two seasons since 2012, Strasburg has thrown 398 ace-level innings, posting a 3.08 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 433 strikeouts. Medlen was very good in 2013 but required a second Tommy John Surgery in 2014. He’s now attempting a comeback with Kansas City.

So yeah, flags fly forever and all, but the Nats had a plan, they stuck to it, and it’s working out pretty well. This is the same plan, by the way, that they executed to similar effect with fellow ace Jordan Zimmermann.

Rather than risk the future by squeezing a few playoff starts out of Strasburg, they attempted to bolster their fortune for years to come, effectively spreading more bets across the roulette table that is the MLB Playoffs.

That’s the thing with October baseball, you never know. From the same Grantland piece linked above:

Since 1986, 26 teams have won 100 games, but just two of them — the 1998 and 2009 Yankees — won the World Series.

Two out of 26! The Nats won 98 games in 2012 and 96 in 2014, yet didn’t make it out of the first round either year. The Braves made the playoffs 14 times in 15 years but only won it all once. The A’s have made it eight times in 15 years without even winning a series.

The point being, while this year’s Nats are as stacked as a modern team can be, they probably won’t go all the way. The best-case scenario is they win the division and get about a 1-in-8 chance of winning three straight playoff series. That was the best-case scenario in 2012, too.

Mike Morse Is Taking On A Two-Year-Old Debate

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After an injury-plagued 2013 that saw our old hero Mike Morse bottom out, he’s having a dream season, posting a .295/.351/.574 slash line for the league-leading Giants. Oh and he’s still not over the great Stephen Strasburg shutdown of 2012:

“A lot of people don’t realize you might only get one shot,” Morse says. “One shot. That could have been the only shot. I just wish we could have given it everything we had, but we didn’t.”


“It was such a weird feeling,” Morse says. “I kept watching Stras throwing bullpens, still running, still doing his thing. I thought, ‘Man, maybe he’s going to come out of the bullpen.’ Or in Game 5, the lights are going to turn off, the spotlight is going to come on, he’s going to run out.

“I remember talking to guys like Mark DeRosa, and they said, ‘This could be your one and only shot.’ It made sense what they were saying to me.”

The piece, reported and written by Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, says the shutdown “still haunts several of [Morse’s] former teammates today.” To which I’d say, get over it.

Washington didn’t lose because they didn’t have Strasburg; they lost because they choked in Game 5. Also relevant to the discussion: Strasburg has had good health and been one of baseball’s best pitchers ever since.

Anyway. I still like Morse quite a bit and wish him all the best in San Francisco. I just wish he’d quit bringing up old shit.

DMV: Stras Made It Past The 7th!

Strasburg goes a career-high eight innings and Harper homers as Nats beat Pads 6-2. (Did you know, BTW, that Stras’ ERA is down to 2.83?) [WaPo]

Johnny Football was there for the pregame festivities. [For The Win]

A little longread on the high-flying Baltimore Orioles. [Sports On Earth]

Skins to remove gaudy “collars” from white jerseys. [Sons of Washington]

Alex Ovechkin actually broke his foot during Game 6. [Russian Machine]

A reminder that the Caps aren’t losers. They’re actually pretty good. [JR]

Adam Oates think he could handle John Tortorella in a fistfight. [CSN D.C.]

(Image taken with love from @dcsportsbog.)

DMV: What’s Up With The Nats?

Nats swept by Cards, fall below .500. [WaPo]

Strasburg loses fourth in a row, is struggling with first-pitch strikes. [Boz]

Noted Cards fan tells Nats fans how to be better fans. [Sports On Earth]

F.P. Santangelo, protector of the Nats, has beef with Doc Walker. [Bog]

O’s lose in 10 to Toronto on a goddamned walkoff walk. [Camden Chat]

It was the O’s first loss in 18 extra-inning games. [BLS]

The O’s have still won 100 straight games when leading late. [SB Nation]

Dylan Bundy seeing Dr. Andrews for second opinion. Uh-oh. [O’s Insider]

How the left-for-dead Caps become division champs. [Japers’, RMNB, SBN]

Caps re-up Eric Fehr for two years at $1.5 million per. [Russian Machine]

New Geico ad feat. Nick Backstrom and the ghost of Lord Stanley. [RMNB]

DMV: Stephen Strasburg Wins His First Major Award

Strasburg, Desmond and LaRoche all win Silver Sluggers. [Nats Journal]

Davey Johnson won a fishing tournament by catching big fish. [Bog]

Adam Jones ringing the closing bell at the NYSE today. [O’s Insider]

Josh Hamilton probably isn’t coming to Baltimore, you guys. [O’s Insider]

Sean Taylor’s brother is apparently really good at football. [Hogs Haven]

Forget Nov. 30, John Wall has no target date for his return. [Wiz Insider]

New Wizards Okafor and Ariza have been brutal. [Bullets Forever

Va. Tech nearly upset No. 8 Florida St. last night but didn’t. [WaPo]

Now Stefon Diggs it out for the Clemson game. Ouch. [Testudo Times]

Maryland plays Kentucky tonight in Brooklyn. Here’s your preview. [TT]

D.C. United had a snow delay. Here’s what that looked like. [Bog]

Stephen Strasburg Is Just a Big Pussy Who Needs to Man-Up, Or Something

The Strasburg Shutdown Debate (SSD) has grown out of control the last couple weeks. It’s gone from a local discussion to a national debate, with everyone from Ken Rosenthal to Rudy Giuliani offering worthless, straw man opinions that serve to only make SSD more insufferable.

But even more infuriating are the “baseball people” — former and current players, managers, etc. — issuing quotes from the Rob Dibble School of Man’ing Up about how Strasburg needs to INSIST he keeps pitching through the playoffs. As if this is somehow his decision, or that he somehow doesn’t want to continue playing.

These people are fucking morons.

Just last night we had two more examples. First, there was Chipper Jones, who said, “If I was him, I’d be throwing a fit.” Because Strasburg throwing a tantrum is going to be a productive and successful means of getting the front office to change its mind. This is professional advice from a 40-year-old veteran to a second-year player.

Then there was this from MLB Network’s Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams: “If it was me, it would have to be at gunpoint. There’s zero chance that I’m going to go quietly.”

How does this scenario work? Listen, Mr. Rizzo, I see that Lannan is already out there warming up, but you are going to have to shoot me in the face to stop me from barging onto the field, taking the ball from John and inserting myself into this game as the starting pitcher. So, what’s it gonna be? Seems reasonable.

The thing that everyone who has just now joined the SSD is missing is that Strasburg isn’t kicking and screaming about being shutdown because it was a decision that was made five months ago. That doesn’t make him less of a man, or less passionate, or competitive, or whatever. He’s accepting it. And the rest of us should do the same. Strasburg isn’t going to pitch in the playoffs. That’s that. So try to enjoy the run and be grateful we get to watch him pitch again next April.

DMV: The Only Thing(s) You Need To Read On Strasburg’s Shutdown

Just a flat-out great column on Strasburg’s shutdown. [Thomas Boswell]

More Strasburg reads. [Nats Baseball, Joe Sheehan, Richard Justice]

An excellent primer on the Strasburg shutdown facts. [Nats Journal]

Nats lost to Giants as Madison Bumgarner was awesome. [WaPo]

Rendon promoted to AA, probably won’t get Sept. call-up. [Nats Journal]

Ian Desmond could return from injury as soon as Friday. [Nats Journal]

It brings me no joy to share the Bob Carpenter Jammage Meter. [Woeful Nats]

Continue reading DMV: The Only Thing(s) You Need To Read On Strasburg’s Shutdown

DMV: Stephen Strasburg Innings Limit Ad Infinitum

Nats players understand Strasburg’s shutdown, aren’t happy about it. [WaPo]

Nats fans don’t seem the least upset about Stras’ innings limit. [Nats Blog]

But what do Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless think about it?!?1?! [Bog]

The Nats pounded the Giants, Vogelsong 14-2 in San Francisco. [WaPo]

Jayson Werth is getting an MRI on his ankle today. [Nats Journal]

Manny Machado named Player of the Week in his first week. [O’]

Continue reading DMV: Stephen Strasburg Innings Limit Ad Infinitum

MLB Players: Strasburg Is Weak

For some strong words from noted medical experts Jake Peavy and Jeff Francoeur on the Nats possibly shutting Stephen Strasburg down next month, head over to this piece from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. A sampling:

“I don’t want to put words in their mouth what their veterans are thinking, but it would be very hard for me as a veteran player to accept that. It would just blow my mind thinking that the Nationals are going to the playoffs and Stephen Strasburg not being part of it? He’s arguably the best pitcher in the game. Don’t you want to seize the moment?”

“For me, you win as many damn games as you can, whenever you can. If that’s Stephen Strasburg throwing 200 innings, so what? Cole Hamels pitched 262 innings (at 25, in 2008) the year the Phillies won the World Series.”

There’s more where that came from, if you can handle the knuckle-dragging.

Previously: ‘Strasburg Shouldn’t Be Shut Down,’ Says Bad ESPN Logic