You can find the original article here.
If one were to simply go by whether or not Strasburg had more strikeouts than innings pitched, or if he had a “quality” start, then yes, Stephen Strasburg did pass his first test. Analysis over.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. Keep in mind, the definition of a quality start is a minimum of 6 innings pitched, and at most 3 earned runs surrendered. I’ve always found the usage of quality start to be rather ambivalent of what really happened because if a pitcher were to have consistent quality starts throughout his career (pitching only 6 innings and allowing 3 ER every time), his ERA would be 4.50. Can you name one pitcher in the Hall of Fame with an ERA that high?
No. You can’t.
Because there isn’t.
The worst you’ll find is Bobby Wallace, who pitched 3 years from 1894-1896 before shifting to an infield position. His ERA in that time was 3.87.
Link For Bobby Wallace’s Profile Here.
Now, why did Strasburg have a less-than-stellar night on the mound? For a number of reasons.
We’ll use a night in which he was truly dominant (his debut) and compare them to the Pitch F/X numbers from Monday night’s start.
Unfortunately, AC doesn’t allow tables, so you’re going to have to follow these links below and scroll down to the first table
Now, based on what you may or may not know, which night would you say was a more effective night? Well, if we look at overall command based on movement and strike percentage, I think most folks would agree — his debut. Just look at the break numbers — Strasburg’s fastball broke a full four fewer inches horizontally, and about 1.5 fewer inches vertically on Monday night than in his debut. Additionally, he simply couldn’t locate his four-seamer as well as he had in the past, throwing only 50% of them for strikes.
For a guy who relies so heavily on his fastball, not having the movement or the control he typically does hurt both him and his command. Nevermind the fact that he was holding Atlanta scoreless into the 7th inning.
The break on his changeup was also significantly less, indicating that it too was flat. In all honesty, I’m surprised he didn’t get hit harder, and you could probably chalk that up to his incredible ability on the mound. One thing Jaron did get right, however, was Strasburg failing to locate his curveball. He threw it only 9 times (compared to 25 times in his debut), and had it called for a strike just twice. He threw just as many balls with his curve Monday night on 9 pitches as he threw on his debut in twenty-five pitches (seven). That’s not going to get it done.
When you’ve got a flat fastball and a flat change-up, and you’re compounding those tendencies with a curveball that you can’t locate, you’re bound to get hit hard if you miss. And Strasburg started to miss.
What is cause for concern is how Strasburg came out in the 7th. He walked Chipper Jones on four straight pitches (three of which missed badly). His very next pitch was a 96 MPH fastball that tailed right over the heart of the plate for catcher Brian McCann, who promptly slapped it for a single. He then tossed another flat fastball to a fastball hitter in Troy Glaus, who reached on an error.
Now here’s where I take some issue with Jaron’s article. He assumes that no runs would have scored without the error, but he’s basing it off events that were dependent upon the bases loaded situation. Both the pitcher and batter will approach a bases loaded, nobody out situation differently than a runner on 3rd, two outs. In the former, Hinkse is going to be trying to lift the ball, while Strasburg will be attempting to keep it down (which he failed to do, elevating a pitch away from Hinkse that let him drive the ball into the air). In the latter, Strasburg’s likely going to be trying to gas the batter, and Eric has been extremely effective with runners in scoring position and two outs — .353/.450/.471 with 9 RBIs in 17 at-bats. Is it more likely that Strasburg walks away from the 7th without any runs surrendered had the error not occurred? Yes. Guaranteed? No.
Unfortunately for him, he then made a good pitch to Escobar and didn’t get the result he wanted. That’s baseball.
In summary, Jaron was spot-on about Strasburg’s curveball – it was horribly ineffective. He was also correct in saying that Strasburg hasn’t been getting proper run support, and that’s absolutely true. Washington has scored just one run in Strasburg’s last three starts.
But Strasburg didn’t ace his exam.
I’d give him a solid B-.
All information from: