Could all this Strasburg noise be for nothing?

Today, Dave Cameron weighed in on the whole “Should Stephen Strasburg go to the All Star Game” debate. That got me thinking, if Strasburg is elected, will he even play? Here’s what I had to say in the comments over at Fangraphs.

Are we sure Strasburg would even pitch if elected? The Nats are holding a considerable cash cow in Strasburg and he happens to be on a pretty strict innings/pitches cap. I would think the Nats will try very hard to persuade him not to alter his routine so he can pitch the 5th inning of a game he’ll be going to for the foreseeable future.

Most importantly, Strasburg is already lined up to start somewhere between July 9th and 11th depending on how the Nationals juggle the rotation. The All Star Game is the 13th. It’s hard to imagine Strasburg climbing the mound in Anaheim on short rest after how carefully the Nationals have nurtured him. Perhaps the Nats would embrace the opportunity to get their money maker in front of the national audience and skip/shorten his last start.

So what do you guys think? Will Strasburg be available to pitch? Will the Nationals attempt to convince him not to pitch? Will he play regardless of his team’s wishes?

To me, this is a much more interesting question to pursue. I think that people get caught up in these notions of what the All Star Game is and isn’t. I’d have to guess that if it’s about anything, it’s the league showing appreciation to the fans by putting the most interesting and exciting players from each league on display. Right now, Stephen Strasburg is probably the most interesting and exciting player in baseball. He makes my cut.

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  1. Craig Glaser said...

    I was thinking the same exact thing.  I’m sure the Nationals don’t want him pitching in the game. 

    He’ll be there soon enough though.  Leave him out this year.

  2. Jim said...

    NOOOOOOO. Stop the debate.  He should not pitch in the All-Star game because he doesn’t deserve it.  If we picked the All Star game after 4 starts wouldn’t you pick the guy who had 31 IP, 19 H against and 1 ER! Wow that guy must be the greatest ever!  That’s Livan Hernandez my friends, come on think before you speak/type.  How about we put Chris Shelton on April 2006 on the team too. Put Strasburg in the Futures game and let him throw an inning there – maybe there would be some more interest in that game if they did so.

  3. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    I don’t think he deserves it, Zimmerman if anyone should get that spot. 

    However, I don’t see what the problem would be if he starts 2-3 days before the All-Star game.  Most pitchers have an in-between throwing session in between each start, and the ASG would be right around when he’ll be throwing anyway.  And there could be an agreement, in light of the Nats concerns, to limit Strasburg to a set number of pitches or one inning, whichever comes first.

  4. Garison said...

    I’ll weigh in a little bit on the “does he deserve to go?” question, but I do find the “will he pitch?” question interesting as well.

    The most obvious argument against Strasburg is that his season is a short sample size. “Wait until he has sustained success before we crown him king of the world!!”

    That’s a good point, but as evidenced by Jim, it can sometimes degenerate into discussing guys like Livan Hernandez. We have an extensive history and a nasty set of stats under the hood that shows Livan is not an All-Star-caliber pitcher. On the other hand, Strasburg has dominated in historic fashion at all levels he has pitched. It’s pretty weak to just throw up your hands after 4 starts and act like we need more evidence that he’s more than smoke and mirrors.

    If we care that the game “counts” and if we want to see the best performances, it might make sense to at least consider Strasburg for the ASG. It’s not terribly unlike how we vote for every other player. We place great weight on current season statistics with at least a reasonable consideration of past performance. It’s inevitable that many players get voted in based on a short period of performance. EVERYONE’S season line at this point is somewhat of a short sample size; some are just shorter than others. So what makes Strasburg so altogether different? That he will have thrown 8 starts at the break rather than 15?

    Based on his skill, history, and current performance I don’t really have a problem with voting Strasburg in. Off the top of my head I doubt that voting him in would even do a gross injustice to someone else, especially if he keeps on rolling.

    Whether he should pitch is a different issue.
    I think Strasburg’s regular season and future are much more important than whether he pitches in a quasi-exhibition game. Is the risk worth the reward? It’s a small risk, but it exists. The idea of interrupting his cycle of rest by shortening a start and pitching him for an inning or so in the All-Star game really raises a red flag in my mind. Unlike with veterans, how can anyone know how well Strasburg would handle it, let alone get back on track?

    On the one hand I’m tired of seeing the NL lose, so they need to put the best team on the field (shouldn’t they just have Lincecum or Halladay pitch a complete game?). On the other hand, the highest priority is the Nationals protecting their prized guy with the real baseball season in view. The decision of pitching in the ASG is not up to Strasburg, though the decision to attend and be available would be his. I doubt that NL manager Charlie Manuel would force the issue if the Nats expressed a wish for him not to pitch.

    He may be selected, but my bet is that he won’t pitch. And if he knows that ahead of time, he probably will be replaced on the roster. In a way, I think that would satisfy people on both sides of the discussion. He’s voted in, but no injustice is done.

  5. Erik F said...

    The coaching staff does not want him to pitch. But isn’t the question whether the owners might want him to pitch? If he pitched in the all star game, would there be an effect on attendance?

    Just cynical old me.

  6. MikeS said...

    There’s a rule this year that starters that pitch on Sunday are not available to pitch in the game and another pitcher will be added to the roster.  These playeres are still considered all stars so they get their bonuses.  So if the Nats truly don’t want him pitching in the game all they have to do is juggle the rotation and have him pitch Sunday.

    There, everybody happy?  He gets to technically be an all star, he doesn’t take anybodies spot and he can’t get hurt in the game.  I still don’t really understand why anybody over the age of 9 cares so much about a game that doesn’t count.  And no, it doesn’t really count and using it to decide the home team for the WS is stupid.

  7. Ollie G said...

    I don’t think Strasburg should be selected…but for what it is worth—I saw Nats GM Mike Rizzo interviewed before a Washington game the other night and Rizzo said that it would be a great honor if Strasburg were selected and the team would be delighted to see him play.

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