Saturday, July 3, 2010

Strasburg Shouldn't Be Named to NL All-Star Team

Stephen Strasburg's sixth big league start this afternoon against the New York Mets was so-so.

Strasburg pitched five innings, gave up two runs on four hits, struck out five and walked three.

He was not involved in the decision as the Nationals rallied in the 9th inning for a 6-5 victory over the Mets.

In his six starts, Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA. He has struck out 53 batters in only 36 and two thirds innings pitched while walking only ten.

A week ago my Dad and I were discussing if Strasburg should be named to the NL All Star Team. My father says he should be included because the All Star Game belongs to the fans and the fans want to see Strasburg pitch. I reminded Dad that pitchers were not directly elected to the All-Star Game by the fans and were selected by the respective league managers. "The only opinion that matters here is Charley Manuel." The Phillies skipper will be managing the NL All-Stars.

At the time of our conversation I was on the fence. I wanted to see what Strasburg did in his starts against the Braves and Mets who are the top two teams in the NL East. Strasburg pitched adequately against the Braves and Mets but got a loss and a no decision to show for it. Remember it's the All-Star Game not the Adequate-Star Game.

Although Strasburg's strikeout totals are impressive I don't think he warrants a selection to the NL All-Star Team. I have three reasons for this opinion.

First, there are other NL starting pitchers who are more deserving than Strasburg. In fact, I can think of a baker's dozen.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies - 14-1 2.27 ERA
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals - 11-5 2.34 ERA
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals - 9-2 3.16 ERA
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals - 8-4 2.10 ERA
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants - 8-4 3.28 ERA, leads NL with 121 strikeouts
Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets - 10-2 2.93 ERA
R.A. Dickey, New York Mets - 6-1 2.62 ERA
Carlos Silva, Chicago Cubs - 8-2 2.96 ERA
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds - 5-1 3.30 ERA
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies - 9-7 2.42 ERA, leads NL with 6 complete games
Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves - 8-3 2.37 ERA
Jon Garland, San Diego Padres - 8-5 3.24 ERA
Mat Latos, San Diego Padres - 9-4 2.62 ERA

There are two rookies on that list (Garcia, Leake) as well as his last two mound opponents (Hudson, Dickey). Nearly all of them have pitched at least or are very near to 100 innings while Strasburg has pitched less than 40.

Second, Strasburg will probably pitch on Friday against the San Francisco Giants. The All-Star Game takes place the following Tuesday. I doubt the Nationals want Strasburg pitching on three days rest even if only for an inning.

Finally, I don't think Strasburg himself believes he deserves to be an All-Star. At least not this year.

But we'll see what Charley Manuel decides tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE: Strasburg was not selected to the NL All-Star Team. I don't think Charley Manuel had any intention of picking him nor do I think the Nationals wanted him in Anaheim. Relief pitcher Matt Capps is the Nationals' lone representative to the team. Although fans do have a chance to vote in Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to be added to the final roster spot.

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