Remember when some people worried that Stephen Strasburg was striking out too many batters, driving his pitch counts upward?
“If you really want to root for Strasburg on Friday at home against the White Sox, maybe you should pull for seven innings on 100 efficient pitches with a dozen groundball outs and only a few measly strikeouts,” Thomas Boswell wrote last year, while asking if Strasburg should resist the urge to become a strikeout king.
“The Nationals could change Strasburg’s style of pitching, having him aim for fewer strikeouts and more groundballs early in the count,” Adam Kilgore wrote this spring.
“He doesn’t need to be throwing four-seamers at 98 miles an hour all the time,” Mike Rizzo told Sports Illustrated around the same time. “We think he can get more outs with 95, 96 miles an hour two-seamers. He can get those groundball outs early in counts. Getting those mis-hits will make him more efficient with his pitches.”
Well, it turns out that he isn’t, or wasn’t aiming for strikeouts. It just happens.
“There was a little bit of scuttlebutt earlier this spring, people talking about what you should do when you come back mechanically and whether you should try to strike as many guys out,” MASN’s Ben Goessling said in a recent conversation with Strasburg. “How did you feel about all that stuff when it came out? Did you just kind of blow it off or did that bug you at all?”
“Well, yeah, I guess I blew it off, but the funny thing is, a lot of these people don’t really know what they’re talking about,” Strasburg replied. “They think that I’m trying to strike guys out. But if you’re trying to strike guys out, you’re going to be walking quite a bit more. And bottom line is I’m trying to pitch to contact. It just so happened that they didn’t make contact.
“So you can say that I’m trying to strike everybody out, but who knows? I’m out there trying to throw strike one. I’m out there trying to get the guy out as fast as I possibly can. Mechanically, if one person sees me for one game, the first time in their life, and they think that this this and this is wrong, then fine, they can think what they want.
“But I’ve thrown this way my whole life, and injuries are a part of baseball. It’s unfortunate that I’m the guy who’s got the media attention and so immediately they’re gonna want to say oh, what does he need to do to change, it’s a mechanical problem....It’s just the nature of the beast. It’s almost funny now, because you hear it come up, and all you can really do is laugh.”
(First seen on SB Nation DC)