Stephen Strasburg: A Retrospective, Part 1
If you haven’t bought your tickets by now, the best advice we can give you is run – don’t walk – to Alliance Bank Stadium. Seats are filling up for Saturday’s Chiefs game – otherwise known as Strasmas. It’s the return of Nationals right-handed phenom Stephen Strasburg, who heads to Syracuse for his fifth rehab start of 2011. Strasburg’s return has already caused enough hoopla around the Syracuse area, simply because of what he accomplished last season. The skinny: 4-1 with a 1.08 ERA in six Syracuse starts. Today, we’ll take a look at Strasburg’s Syracuse starts last season, and tomorrow, we’ll examine how 2011’s gone for him.
May 7 vs Gwinnett: 7-0 win
Strasburg’s line: 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 6 K
Six innings of one-hit ball in his first Triple-A start – and how was your first day at your new job? Strasburg dominated the G-Braves in a shutout victory, giving up just one hit – a fourth-inning single to current Chief Gregor Blanco. In fact, he allowed as many hits as he collected himself – a second-inning single by Strasburg scored Seth Bynum. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt. And for one more ridiculous, impressive note to top it off, Strasburg got twelve groundouts and no air outs against the 20 batters he faced. That’s ZERO outs in the air. If you’re handing out grades, this one’s an A+, and that still might be an understatement.
May 12 vs Norfolk: 4-0 win
Strasburg’s line: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K
…and then he got better. Strasburg went from one hit allowed to no hits allowed in his second Triple-A start, shutting down Norfolk before leaving with a pitch count at 80. The closest thing the Tides got to a hit was a hard-hit ground ball by Blake Davis in the third inning that bounced off Pedro Lopez’s glove for an error. Other than that, a Jeff Salazar walk was the only blemish on Strasburg’s night. The Chiefs scored four runs in the fifth inning to back him up, on a Kevin Mench single and Josh Whitesell triple.
May 19 at Rochester: 5-1 win
Strasburg’s line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K
Strasburg hit the road for the first time in Game 2 of a Wednesday doubleheader. The result was just as dominant. Though Strasburg gave up multiple hits for the first time (gasp!), he struck out nine to set a new Triple-A high. Every player in Rochester’s lineup struck out in the game, with four Red Wings fanning twice. The Chiefs backed Strasburg offensively with 11 singles and six walks.
May 24 vs Toledo: 6-3 win
Strasburg’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, ER, 0 BB, 5 K
For once, Strasburg picked up a no-decision, leaving in a 2-2 tie before the Chiefs exploded for four runs in the sixth. Another current Chiefs outfielder did a decent amount of the damage against Strasburg – former Mud Hen Jeff Frazier. Frazier, who went 3 for 4 in the game, singled and doubled in two at-bats off of Strasburg, with the double coming in the middle of a fourth-inning rally. The game was a bit of a bizarre one for a few reasons; Chiefs outfielder Kevin Mench and manager Trent Jewett were ejected in the fourth inning, five of the Chiefs’ six runs were unearned, and Pete Orr both tripled and homered in the win.
May 29 vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 3-2 loss
Strasburg’s line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
A loss! A Strasburg loss! Stop the presses! OK, not quite that amount of hysteria, but the Yankees still touched up Strasburg for a Scranton win. They also made the right-hander labor for 86 pitches in just five-plus innings. Strasburg allowed two hits, a balk, and a walk in the fifth, before Josh Wilkie came on. Two inherited runners scored against Wilkie, and the Chiefs couldn’t muster another run against three Yankee relievers. Strasburg also allowed his first Triple-A home run, with Rene Rivera smacking a third-inning long ball.
June 3 at Buffalo: 7-1 loss
Strasburg’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K
Talk about going out in style. In Strasburg’s final Triple-A start, he shut out the Bisons despite laboring for 89 pitches. And that was all against a team with an average north of .280 coming into the game. Three singles were all Buffalo could muster against the right-hander, who was backed by three Syracuse home runs. Once again, the right-hander helped out his own cause, with a single and a run scored.
33.1 IP, 18 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 38 K, .154 average against, 1.9 G/A ratio
Domination. That’s the easiest way to put Strasburg’s 2010 Triple-A performance into words. He was held to five or six innings every start because of pitch count and inning limits, but never gave up more than three runs, and the Chiefs won 5 of his 6 games. And over 12,000 fans came out to five of the six games to see him.
Tomorrow, we take a look at how Strasburg’s 2011 tour of the minor leagues has gone. Love or hate the stories, feel free to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Feel free to tweet at us too @ChiefsRadio.