Tag:Jordan Zimmermann
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:58 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 2:01 pm
 

Strasburg's 2012 limits are to be determined

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals question for this spring is whether Bryce Harper will make the opening day roster.

The question for later this year will be about the team's other huge young star.

How many innings will they let Stephen Strasburg throw, and would they really shut him down in September if they're in a pennant race (as they expect to be)?

The answers, according to general manager Mike Rizzo: don't know yet, and absolutely yes.

Rizzo said Tuesday that while people have assumed that Strasburg will be limited to 160 innings -- that's what they allowed Jordan Zimmermann to throw in a similar situation last year -- the actual number won't be determined until later in the season.

"[Manager Davey Johnson] has absolutely no limits on how many innings or how many pitches [Strasburg can throw]," Rizzo said. "Davey's going to use his expertise."

That said, Rizzo guaranteed that Strasburg won't pitch a full season in 2012. He said it's unrealistic to expect that, since he pitched just 44 1/3 innings between the major leagues and minor leagues last year, when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery.

"We don't want to overpitch him," Rizzo said. "He will be shut down during the season at some point."

Exactly what that point is, Rizzo said, will be determined by what they see from Strasburg. Last year, Zimmermann's final start was on Aug. 28.

Of course, last year the Nationals were 22 1/2 games out of first place by that point. This year, they expect to be much closer to the top.

Strasburg seems to be a little more relaxed this spring, although he is still ultra-quiet and reserved. He was scheduled to spend part of Tuesday filming a commercial that will air this summer in the Washington area.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 9:42 pm
 

3 to Watch: The return of Strasburg edition

Stephen Strasburg returns to the major leagues Tuesday night, and as interesting as it will be to see how he pitches, it'll be even more interesting to see if the buzz is back.

Can he make us care, the way he did last year? Can he make us ask every day, "Is Strasburg pitching tonight?"

It's different, I know. He's been out for a year after Tommy John surgery. It's September, not June. He's only going to make four starts at a time when we're more focused on pennant races (if there are any) or football. He's going to be on a pitch limit even stricter than the one the Nationals held him to last year (and will be limited to four innings and 60 pitches in his debut, according to the Washington Post).

"I'm not going to win a Cy Young in four starts," Strasburg told reporters, according to MLB.com.

He didn't win a Cy Young last year. He was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, before hurting his elbow in August.

But we were fascinated by him, more than we've been fascinated by any player coming through the minor leagues. We couldn't wait for him to get to the majors, and when he got there, we couldn't wait for his every start.

His debut, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, was one of the biggest events of the entire season.

It won't be like that Tuesday. It can't be like that Tuesday.

According to the Nationals, there are still tickets available, although they say it should be a bigger crowd than they'd normally have for a September Tuesday against the Dodgers.

There is some anticipation. Strasburg's rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues made national news, and in those six starts he struck out 29 while walking just four.

In his last start, according to the Washington Times, Strasburg topped out at 99 mph on the radar gun.

He threw 99 last June, on his 94th and final pitch of a magical night.

I'm not saying that Tuesday will be as magical, or that it even could be. But I'll be back in Washington to see it, and more than that to feel it.

Will the buzz be back?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Strasburg underwent surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. He returns to the big leagues on Sept. 6, 2011, in Dodgers at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park. That's a fairly normal progression; Strasburg's teammate Jordan Zimmermann returned one year and seven days after he had Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann returned on the same day that Bryce Harper had his introductory press conference and Strasburg underwent an arthogram that showed he would need Tommy John surgery, too.

2. On Aug. 15, the Rangers had a four-game lead in the American League West, and that night they began a 23-game stretch in which they played every game against a team that (as of Sunday morning) had a record of .500 or better. The Rangers ended the weekend with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, and they'll end that tough stretch with Rangers at Rays, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. After that game, the Rangers will have 18 games left on their schedule, and only six of those 18 (three at home against the Indians, three in Anaheim against the Angels) will be against teams with winning records. So if the Angels want to catch up, this week (when they play three home games against the Mariners) could be crucial. It's an interesting pitching matchup for the Rangers Wednesday, with Derek Holland (seven shutout innings last Friday against the Red Sox) facing David Price (who threw eight shutout innings the last time he faced the Red Sox).

3. Last year, both the Phillies and the Braves made the playoffs, but when the teams met in two September series, it was obvious that the Braves were no match. They meet again this week, in a series that ends with Braves at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Once again, the Phillies have basically wrapped up the division title (which will be their fifth straight), and this time the Braves are far ahead in the wild-card race. This time, at least going in, the Braves seem a more competitive match for the Phils. But with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens both battling injuries, the Braves might need to rely more than they'd like on rookie Brandon Beachy, who starts Wednesday against Roy Oswalt (who the Phillies will be watching carefully).

Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:34 am
 

Nats starters go deep (no, not home runs)

Only one team in the majors has yet to go to the bullpen in the first five innings of a game.

No, it's not the Phillies. Or the Giants. Or the A's.

Keep guessing, and let me know when you get to the Nationals.

Yes, the Nationals.

Last year, they didn't get past opening day without an early departure by the starter. By the end of the year, they had 38, the most in the majors.

Now, they're the only team without one (every other team has at least two, led by the Pirates with seven).

It's all according to plan.

"I'm not a big stat guy, but I firmly believe that the farther the starter goes in a game, the better chance you have of winning," pitching coach Steve McCatty said by phone Tuesday morning. "You try to get guys to know they have to go farther in the game to give you a chance to win."

It's not exactly revolutionary thinking, but McCatty has prioritized limiting walks over striking out batters. Sure enough, Nationals starters have just 45 walks in 173 innings, fewer than any rotation other than the Phillies.

"We're trying to stress it in the minor leagues, too," he said. "One thing the pitch count has done is it keeps guys from going deep in games, but we're telling guys you can go seven innings with 100 pitches or less.

"I was a guy who threw 135-145 pitches every time out, but just because I did it doesn't make it right."

The Nationals have gotten innings out of their starters without running high pitch counts. No Nats starter has thrown more than 109 pitches in a game, and last Friday against the Giants Jason Marquis threw a 96-pitch complete game.

The five-inning thing, as McCatty admits, isn't the best indicator. The Nationals are only in the middle of the pack in starts of six innings-plus (they have 19 in 28 games), and the Nats have just six starts of seven innings-plus (the Rays lead baseball with 15).

But for an unheralded staff -- Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Marquis and Tom Gorzelanny form the Nationals rotation -- the five-inning streak is impressive.

Especially from a rotation no one has paid attention to since Stephen Strasburg got hurt.

Posted on: May 12, 2010 2:54 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2010 3:23 pm
 

Boone: Pudge is 'Numero Uno'

Bob Boone believes Pudge Rodriguez is "a shoo-in" to get 3,000 hits. He believes Rodriguez might catch 3,000 games.

And he believes . . .

"He's going to end up as the best catcher ever," said Boone, who caught 19 seasons in the big leagues and now serves as the Nationals vice president for player development. "You can talk about Johnny Bench, or Mike Piazza, or Gary Carter. Ivan Rodriguez is the best catcher who ever played the game.

"There's a catching fraternity, and right now Pudge is Numero Uno. He's the chairman of the fraternity."

Rodriguez ranks first among catchers in all-time games caught (2,312), hits as a catcher (2,653) and doubles as a catcher (535). He ranks seventh in home runs as a catcher (306, with Piazza the record holder at 396).

Boone was involved in the Nationals' decision to sign the 38-year-old Rodriguez to a $6 million, two-year contract over the winter.

"People said how could we do it, but I just kind of laughed," Boone said. "I knew he could do it. To me, it was a no-brainer."

At the time he retired in 1990, Boone held the record for most games caught, with 2,225. Carlton Fisk later passed him, and Rodriguez passed Fisk last year.

"I'm sure Pudge thinks he'd better move this record out for a while," Boone said with a chuckle. "That Mauer kid is on the way."

For the record, Joe Mauer caught his 631st career game on Wednesday in Minnesota. He entered play Wednesday with 770 hits as a catcher.

*****

Boone and Rodriguez spent time together in Nationals camp this spring, and Boone said he told Rodriguez that the key to hitting as you get older is to concentrate on going the other way.

"You lose bat speed," Boone said. "I did. But you can play with limited bat speed as long as you're short to the ball. Hit it the other way. And Pudge has always been great at that."

*****

The Nationals will be adding Stephen Strasburg to their rotation at some point, likely in early June. They expect Jordan Zimmermann, who had Tommy John elbow surgery last year, to pitch for them sometime in August.

They also have Chien-Ming Wang, but general manager Mike Rizzo refuses to set any kind of timetable for him.

"He's throwing bullpens," Rizzo said.

Wang had shoulder surgery last July.

 
 
 
 
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