Second Half Plans for Stephen Strasburg

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, July 07, 2010 | , , , | 0 comments »

In his pre-game press conference, Manager Jim Riggleman addressed the possibilities for how the team will structure Stephen Strasburg's second half starts. 

While the plan is still in flux, Riggleman laid out some scenarios as to how the team will manage his innings, with the idea to limit the big right-handed rookie to roughly 160 innings for the entire season, including his minor league starts.

So far in 2010, Strasburg has thrown 36 2/3 innings in the Major Leagues, and another 55 1/3 in the minors between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.  That would leave him about 68 innings for the rest of the season.

The team has stated in the past their desire to have him pitch into September, and in order to do so they will have to be somewhat clever in managing his workload.

Strasburg makes his final start of the first half Friday night against San Francisco.  Riggleman discussed two different scenarios, one where Strasburg would throw in the first series after the All-Star break in Florida against the Marlins, and one where his first start would come in the next series in Cincinnati.

"We feel like he's a good matchup against anybody, but we feel like there's a couple [matchups] we really wouldn't want him to miss," Riggleman said. "Depending on if he starts that first series or the second series, there's a matchup or two we would not have him in, where we feel like he's really got a chance to be successful against a couple particular ballclubs."

The break, and how the Nats line up their second-half rotation, could give Strasburg anywhere from seven to nine days off between starts.

Either way, the team will have to contemplate giving Strasburg an extra day of rest between some starts and perhaps skip a start or two for him to be able to pitch well into September.

If he averages seven innings per start with the 68 innings he has remaining to his target, that would give the phenom about 10 second half starts.  Riggleman mentioned the idea about "losing" a start due to rain, etc., but starting every fifth day with 10 starts gets Strasburg only to the first week of September, depending on when he makes his first post-All-Star game start.

The Nats would like to avoid the idea of shutting Strasburg down toward the end of the season.  Rather, they feel if they can manage his starts, and innings pitched, so that if they do have to shut him down it would just be for the final week or two of the season, and not most of the month of September.