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Stephen Strasburg returns

Sep 6, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

strasburg poses getty Getty Images

Tonight’s the night. Strasmas II. The Strassurection. Call it what you want, but Stephen Strasburg returns to a major league mound to face the Dodgers. His first game that counts since Tommy John surgery a year and three days ago.

Everyone talks about the physical adjustments after ligament surgery. The velocity often comes back fairly quickly, but the touch and command lags. Often by weeks and months.  One thing people don’t talk about is the mental adjustment. There can’t be anything more boring and tedious than injury rehab. Most of it is spent by oneself, working out early mornings at some facility a thousand miles from where the team is playing and a million miles from the mental state a major leaguer would expect to have in the middle of a baseball season.

But it had to have been even more extreme for Strasburg, for he went from the center of the baseball world’s attention to that painful solitude practically overnight. And now his return is more highly anticipated and hyped than just about any similar return I can recall.  His physical journey has been as tough as any rehabbing pitcher’s, but his mental journey has to have been much tougher.

So let’s watch tonight to see if he can snap off some of that crazy stuff he showed during those few crazy weeks he captured the nation’s attention in 2010. But let’s also see if we can’t tell if he’s, well, a little crazy from the roller coaster ride.

  1. acheron2112 - Sep 6, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Actually it’s probably going to rain tonight. Even if the game’s not postponed, if there’s a delay or anything then the Nats aren’t going to put him in. So Strasmas may have to wait.

  2. phukyouk - Sep 6, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    I wish this kid all the luck in the world.. i truly truly do. i would love to see him become the next (i think they compared him to smoltz?) or Doc or whatever. BUT if the fu*king idiot Nats allow him to go 7,8,9 innings again throwing well into the 100MPH late in the game he is going to end up back on the DL again and again and again and you will have yourself another Prior. seriously.. i get the whole Gate and ticket sales and all that but the Nats are not going to be making the playoffs for, oh lets say 2 yrs Min, so get your ticket sales but be smart about it.

    • ss - Sep 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      The Nats have kept him on a perfectly normal schedule in his return from TJ. You know how many times he threw 100 pitches in a game last year? Zero. They’ve handled him about as well as anyone could hope and his elbow popped. It happens. The Nats deserve a good amount of derision for quite a few things they’ve done, but not for their handling of Strasburg.

      • phukyouk - Sep 6, 2011 at 10:18 AM

        man i truly wish people would actually read what i wrote before responding. i never said he threw 100 pitches i said he threw 100MPH late in the game.
        he threw in the high 90’s ptich count wise at least 2 x and it was 100MPH fast balls when his pitch count was that high. its not a good idea. the Nats handling of him was awful last year and if they allow him to do it again it will be just as bad.

      • nolanwiffle - Sep 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

        When he takes the mound he’s still being paid to get major league hitters out…..let him do what he does.

      • Alex K - Sep 6, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        I don’t agree that he was handled poorly, phuckyouk. Pitchers get hurt. A guy can be abused like a rented mule and be fine, or he can be handled with kid gloves and blowout. There is no reliable way I’ve ever heard of to make sure a guy stays healthy.

      • ss - Sep 6, 2011 at 11:50 AM

        PY – So your issue is with his velocity late in games? Do you not want him to throw fastballs in the latter innings? If he was throwing 94 from the fifth inning on, would that be better? I just don’t understand your argument. His fastball is just superduper fast. That’s how fast it goes when he throws it.

        You haven’t shown how the “Nats handling of him was awful last year.” You’ve just said it. Which is something, but not a real argument. This isn’t Mark Prior throwing over 110 pitches 19 times his second year in the league, and throwing over 130 three times that season. By everything I’ve see he’s been handled responsibly.

    • obpedmypants - Sep 6, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      Do you know how many times last year Stras went over 7 innings? Zero.

      I completely disagree with you that they’ve overworked him in the past. The only criticisms I think are fair is that they are bringing him back too quickly this year for what amounts to no reason other than a few juiced ticket sales at the end of the year. And also, they should have taken the time to see if they could adjust his delivery. Last year, he threw with a corked motion where his elbow goes above his shoulder and hand, and it’s becoming somewhat evident that doing this with 95mph+ fastballs is a recipe for repeated DL stints.

      • Alex K - Sep 6, 2011 at 12:33 PM

        I don’t think the “inverted W” you’re talking about has been proven to increase risk of injury. I said it before….pitchers get hurt. It’s just how it goes.

      • obpedmypants - Sep 6, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        Ideas don’t need proof before preventative action should be taken–especially when the cost of mitigating this risk is so low, the value of the player is so high, and the perceived correlations are indicating that pitching with the ‘inverted W’ (why not M?) leads to more injuries.

        http://www.drivelinebaseball.com/2010/09/04/strasburg-the-inverted-w-and-pitching-mechanics/

      • Alex K - Sep 6, 2011 at 2:11 PM

        I just don’t see a reason to change the delivery that had worked for him when there is no proof doing so would have prevented him from getting hurt. Guys with awful deliveries don’t always get hurt. Guys with great delivereis don’t always stay healthy. But changing his mechanics could alter his stuff and control/command (see Matzek, Tyler)

      • Tim's Neighbor - Sep 6, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        We should all throw like Europeans so we can stay healthy.

    • natstowngreg - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:30 AM

      Strasburg threw 56 pitches in 5 innings. He pitched the 5th because he had thrown so few pitches through the first 4 innings. then he was replaced. There was roughly zero chance he was going to be abused in his first start.

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