Fantasy Spin: Strasburg Makes History
Stephen Strasburg's performance on Tuesday evening cannot be described in words. It was historic, plain and simple, and will forever remain implanted in the minds of those who were fortunate enough to see it. Put simply, he lived up to the hype ... and then some. No hyperbole necessary.
He threw 94 pitches, 65 of them for strikes. He allowed four hits and two earned runs (courtesy of a Delwyn Young two-run homer in the fourth) but walked zero while striking out 14. No, that's not a typo. He fanned 14 batters over seven frames in his major league debut. And there's more ...
He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings, whiffing eight of the last nine batters he faced (including the last seven in a row).
He struck out all nine Pirates starters.
His 14 strikeouts were the most ever by a Nationals player and the most by any Expos player since Javier Vazquez struck out 14 Cubs back in 2003.
Strasburg became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out as many as 14 without issuing a single walk in his big league debut.
No pitcher in the history of baseball has racked up that many Ks on fewer pitches.
Everything we heard about the phenom was true. His fastball consistently clocked in at 96-100 mph. His curveball not only made Pirates hitters look foolish, but managed to freeze the home plate umpire a couple of times. His changeup, especially coming off of his heater, was simply -- as Bob Costas and I'm sure countless others put it -- unfair.
For those of you who drafted him this spring, suffice it to say, your patience was handsomely rewarded. The question now is, can he maintain this type of dominance the rest of the season? Or is his value right now the highest it will ever be? Should you be looking to capitalize on his debut via a trade?
The answer to that first question is easy. No, he won't strike out 14 batters every time he takes the hill. He'll also face more patient/potent lineups than the Pirates as he makes his way around the league. However, that doesn't mean he'll lose his skills. Sure, he'll give up a few more hits and a few more runs on occasion, but I have no doubt he'll be able to maintain a strikeout rate of at least a batter per frame the rest of the way, to go along with excellent control. Numbers-wise, I see no reason why he can't post an ERA in the mid-3.00s with a sub-1.25 WHIP.
As far as his value is concerned, it's true. His value will never be higher, at least in his rookie campaign, as it was on June 8, 2010. Heck, even I was tempted to trade Jason Bay for him as he was striking out his 14th batter of the game. It was at that moment that I remembered his innings limit, and thought better.
The Nationals have long stated that they'd like to cap Strasburg's innings at around 150-160 this season. If you include Tuesday night's start with the frames he threw down on the farm, he's already at 62 1/3, meaning at most, he's got about 90-100 innings left in him. What's that, about 14-15 starts? That might get him to September if they skip him a few times, but it sort of limits how much of an impact he can have on your squad's bottom line. Most other pitchers will give you another 20-22 turns. Never mind hitters who you can count on for another 100-plus games.
I certainly won't urge you NOT to trade for him; some owners' asking prices may be reasonable. Just know that he's a temporary prize who may be of no service to you when it counts the most.
For those of you who own Strasburg, it may be in your best interests to see what you can get for him before he takes the mound for his next start. Dangle him in front of the starting pitching/strikeout-starved owner in your league who's ignorant of his innings limit, and see what he'll fetch. You never know -- in some leagues with less experienced owners, you might even be able to name your price.