Stephen Strasburg (9-4, 2.82 ERA) joined Holden and Danny on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. where he addressed the team-imposed season pitch count or lack-thereof, as well as the Nationals growing playoff aspirations and his first appearance as an All-Star in a Nationals uniform.
Stras will be making his All-Star debut Tuesday, along with fellow Nationals Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper. However, by all accounts told, we will not be seeing him pitch anytime in October, should the Nationals be so lucky as to still playing.
General Manager Mike Rizzo has said on multiple platforms and on multiple occasions that he intends to hold Stephen to the same innings count as he held Jordan Zimmermann to in the year removed from his Tommy John surgery. It’s not just a proven theory at this point; it’s almost science.
Across the league teams are adopting the policy of keeping their pitchers to hard innings count in the year following Tommy John surgery, and for those who don’t, the results can be devastating. The general sentiment around the Nationals clubhouse is that it’s just not worth the risk of jeopardizing Strasburg’s long-term health for the short-term gains of a potential playoff run in 2012.
Despite all the remarks about this innings count, Stephen did not seem to be knowledgeable of the situation. In fact, he appeared to have no knowledge of it whatsoever.
“Yea, it’s tough. Everything I hear, they say it’s going to happen but I can’t really worry about that to be honest. It’s something that they haven’t discussed with me so all I can do is keep pitching and keep helping this team win as many games as we can. When they think that it’s time for us to shut it down, that’s going to be their call.”
Stephen further elaborating on his lack of knowledge of the innings limit placed on him by management.
“Obviously you hear about it in the media but they don’t really want me worrying about it in the clubhouse. I’m pretty good at fielding all the questions about it but when it comes to game time they just want me to go out there and pitch and throw as many innings as I can.”
Strasburg couldn’t say if General Manager Mike Rizzo is planning to address the void that will inevitably be felt in the rotation by his absence through a trade.
At 49-34, the Washington Nationals have posted the third best record in all of Major League Baseball at the break; the best in the National League. With the team coming together the way it did, so many factors – Strasburg coming off injury in peak form, Harper coming up sooner than expected and playing at an All-Star caliber (.282, 8 HR), and the team overcoming key injuries to Jayson Werth, Michael Morse and Drew Storen – nobody could have predicted the Nationals to respond so well to their 80-81 record in 2011…except for the players.
“I think we’ve learned how to win. Once you learn how to win it becomes a lot easier to keep it going. That was the one thing that I felt like was kind of tough within the organization was that we knew how to lose but we didn’t really know how to win. We’re on the right track and when we play our best baseball I think we can beat anybody. Hopefully at the right time in September, we’re peaking and playing our best ball. As you can tell with the Cardinals last year, it doesn’t really matter what your record is going into the postseason, once you get there it’s the team that’s hot.”
The interview with the premier starter wasn’t all baseball-centric. Strasburg, often seen on-camera in the dugout palling around with #2 starter in the rotation Gio Gonzalez, let the fans in on the secret as to what they’re always laughing about.
“Not really talking hitting. A lot of times we’re just messing around. We’re talking about anything from baseball to D.C./U.S. history trivia. It’s actually kind of funny, on the flight out here we had George Will make some flashcards for us, so we have a little bit of knowledge of former Presidents now. We’re going to quiz some of the other guys on the rotation when we get back.”
While he may not know what the team’s plans are for him behind the scenes, we’ve at least learned that Stephen Strasburg boasts impressive knowledge of the town in which he pitches.