The Washington Nationals really thought they were getting a fantastic player last season when they drafted RHP Stephen Strasburg out of San Diego State with the #1 pick in the MLB Draft. Strasburg tore through the minor leagues with ease, going 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A combined. He struck out 65 men in 55.1 innings of work.
Last week, the Nats called him up to the big leagues, in part because it will stretch one more year out of Strasburg before he becomes eligible for arbitration, and in part to help preserve his arm just a tad.
That first start couldn’t have come against a better team, as the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t significantly better than most teams playing in AAA ball. Strasburg mowed through the Bucs, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out 14 guys through seven innings of work.
Today, we’re going to look at a couple of the betting props from Sportsbook.com on the type of season that this phenom is going to have in his rookie campaign.
Total Complete Games During the 2010 Regular Season: Over/Under 1.5 – Okay, let’s be realistic about a few things here. First of all, manager Jim Riggleman has one job when Strasburg is on the mound, and it has nothing to do with winning games. Strasburg’s arm is far more valuable to the franchise than any individual game is, especially when you’re a team that is going to most likely be in last place regardless of how much you end up overachieving for the season. Strasburg does have the type of arm that can last deep into games, and we have to love the fact that he only needed 94 pitches to get through seven innings of work against the Pirates, but he isn’t throwing a full game any time in the near future. If Strasburg does it once, we’ll be surprised. Twice would be very, very shocking.
Total Strikeouts During the 2010 Regular Season: Over/Under 146.5 – Considering the fact that Strasburg came up during the first week of June, that means that he probably has, at best, 22 more starts this year, and odds have it, the number will only be 21. Just doing some simple math shows, in order to reach 147 strikeouts, he would have to fan 6.4 batters per game. Of course, starting off with 14 Ks is an impressive feat, but again, we’re going to go back to the fact that he probably isn’t pitching seven innings every time out there. Plus, major league hitters are going to get used to his stuff, and inevitably, Strasburg will get knocked around from time to time. In order to reach the kind of average that we are talking about over a full 162 game (34 starts) season, Strasburg would have to fan 217 batters. In 2009, there were only four pitchers that pulled that accomplishment off, and we don’t think that Strasburg is quite ready to step into the same type of position as Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and Felix Hernandez yet.