Last year I was among the many that panned the Washington Nationals decision to shut Stephen Strasburg down at the end of the regular season as well as the post season. They said they wanted to preserve Strasburg for what they envisioned to be a long, storied and successful career.
The rest of the world realizes that trips to the postseason are precious. THAT is what you are playing for, those opportunities to get to and win the World Series. When you get close, follow through. It’s no longer time to be conservative.
The Nats stuck to their guns though, and the predictably burned out of the World Series. I’m happy to note that they are struggling this year, flirting with .500, wasting one of those potential chances to find the World Series.
At least Strasburg’s arm is fresh, and he is just as strong as ever, right? Well, his arm may be fresh, but despite what his ERA might tell you, he hasn’t been as dominant as what he showed in 2012. Strasburg is striking out 2 fewer batters per nine, and his walk rate is higher. His ERA is lower than it should be thanks in large part to his BABIP, which is significantly lower than it was last year. Strasburg is generating more ground balls, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his BABIP is lower than league average. Strasburg hasn’t been better than last year, he has been luckier.
Fortunately, old school nimrods can look at his win loss record and cite his 5-7 record as proof that Strasburg is having a down year, but we statheads are comfortable enough looking at his FIP, or his xFIP, which are respectively .59 and .7 runs higher than they were last year,