With all of the press surrounding the whole Joel Peralta pine tar kerfuffle, it’s easy to forget that there’s a baseball game tonight…and a very good one at that. RHP rookie Chris Archer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will take the mound for the first time in a Rays uniform. He’ll butt heads against the very good Stephen Strasburg (8-1, 2.45). Most Rays fans know something about Strasburg, but may never have had the opportunity to see how good he is up close. I guess the same could be said for Archer. In the case of Archer, DRaysBay did a good piece on what he has to offer, so I’ll leave you to peruse that on your own. You can find a link to that piece here. Otherwise, let’s break down Strasburg a bit.
The Rays saw first hand how good the Nationals pitching is. No, I’m not talking about Chien-Ming Wang whom they knocked out of the game one out into the fourth. I’m talking about the Nats relievers who held the Rays to one hit in 5-2/3 innings, while striking the good guys out six times. And Wang, Strasburg is not. The folks at 60ft6in.com had this to say about him,
The new “Big Train”, Stephen Strasburg, has a dominating fastball that touches 100 mph. His 4-seamer flies with some run to his arm side, while his 2-seamer adds significant sink. Strasburg commands and controls his curveball very well, allowing him to use it both as a strikeout pitch and a get-ahead pitch. To complete his repertoire, Stephen deals a changeup that dives onto home plate. Strasburg has a freshly repaired arm with minimal lifetime innings attached to it. With his plus stuff and plus control, Stephen makes pitching look easy.
Strasburg began his collegiate career at San Diego State as a lazy, overweight kid with a good arm. Under Head Coach Tony Gwynn, Strasburg turned his baseball path around, dominated the college game his sophomore and junior seasons, and became the #1 overall draft pick by the Washington Nationals in 2009. With an eerie resemblance to Mark Prior, the only thing that will slow Strasburg down is another injury.
4-seam fastball (94-100), 2-seam fastball (92-95), curve (79-82), changeup (88-90)
So far in 2012, Strasburg has given up only five homers in 13 starts, while striking out 100 and walking 20. He’s also given up a paltry 21 earned runs on 60 hits. What’s more, only 14 of those 60 hits have been extra base hits. What’s interesting, though Strasburg is a righty killer, right handed batters do have a higher slugging average against him…though the difference between righties and lefties is negligible. Suffice to say, his five-to-one strikeout to walk ratio is very good.
And true, because of his recent surgery Strasburg probably won’t go past the sixth inning tonight. However, facing the bullpen offers little consolation. With a combined 3.02 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and a two to one strikeout to walk ratio, tonight’s game won’t be a walk in the park for the Rays.
Rays 6/20/12 Starting Lineup: