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Davey Johnson: Nationals ‘probably’ would have won in playoffs with Stephen Strasburg

Stephen-Strasburg-NationalsWashington Nationals fans are left to forever wonder what could have been if the team allowed Stephen Strasburg to pitch in the 2012 postseason rather than shutting him down because of an innings cap. The Nationals certainly could have used another arm in the 2012 NLDS when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

However, it should be noted that Washington had Game 5 under wraps until their bullpen imploded. I guess you could argue that the team could have used Strasburg in a bullpen role rather than starting him, but we know how much hindsight means. On Tuesday, Davey Johnson was asked if his team would have advanced to the NLCS if Strasburg pitched.

Although that’s debatable, it’s a valid question and one the Nationals knew they would have to answer. Johnson was also asked about a recent article by John Feinstein of the Washington Post, which basically argued that the Nats cost themselves a championship by shutting down Strasburg. Johnson didn’t want to go that far.

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Washington Nationals coach proud of Stephen Strasburg for hitting Justin Upton

Washington Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr said he was “proud” of pitcher Stephen Strasburg for hitting Justin Upton during the team’s game against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

The Braves and Nats have had a beef going this season, mostly revolving around Bryce Harper. Harper has been hit by a pitch four times this year, three coming from the Braves. Earlier this month, benches cleared when Julio Teheran hit Harper for admiring a home run hit earlier in the game. Atlanta decided to give Harper the same treatment when the teams met on Friday for the first of a three-game series.

The Braves hit Harper twice on Friday. The first hit by pitch came on a curveball by Alex Wood in the fourth. The second came on a fastball from Luis Avilan in the eighth. Avilan hit Harper in the back, leaving the Nats outfielder with a bruise that kept him out of Saturday’s game. Neither pitcher was ejected for dosing Harper, and the Braves won the game 3-2 on a solo home run by Justin Upton in the 10th.

Justin Upton hitOn Saturday, Strasburg gave up a leadoff home run to Jason Heyward in the first and then hit Upton on the first pitch. Upton took his base without incident, but Strasburg was warned for hitting Upton. The next inning, Strasburg got wild. He walked Jordan Schafer to start the inning, and then he threw three straight wild pitches while facing Andrelton Simmons. The first wild pitch was a slider outside and in the dirt. The next two were fastballs that badly missed behind Simmons. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson ejected Strasburg for throwing behind Simmons, and manager Davey Johnson was also tossed.

Though Strasburg may not have deserved an ejection when he probably was just unintentionally wild, he did appear to hit Upton on purpose to settle the score regarding Harper. Knorr said he would be proud of Strasburg for doing that.

“They hit Harper quite a bit. You know? I don’t know if somebody said something or if he just decided to do it on his own. If he decided to do it on his own, I’m proud of him,” Knorr said after Saturday’s game with a casual shrug.

The Braves won the rubber match between the teams on Sunday. Harper went 2-for-4 with a walk. Upton did not play.

Drew Storen’s dad takes funny shot at Nationals over Stephen Strasburg

Mike-Rizzo-Potomac-Nationals-Field-ConditionsBryce Harper and Yoenis Cespedes showed us that the future of the MLB is incredibly bright when they battled it out in the final round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night. Cespedes may have won the event with a towering home run and an epic bat flip, but the highlight of my night came from someone connected to the Washington Nationals organization.

Harper’s father, Ron, was his son’s personal pitcher for the Derby. Nationals pitcher Drew Storen’s father was watching the event from home, and he seized the opportunity to drop a perfectly-timed Stephen Strasburg reference during the final round.

Of course, Storen’s dad was referring to the innings cap the Nationals put on Strasburg last season. He had to have planned that one out, right? I bet when Harper advanced to the finals, Drew’s dad couldn’t wait to send that tweet. I don’t blame him. That’s pure genius.

H/T Eye on Baseball

Miami Marlins girl twerks it against bullpen as Stephen Strasburg warms up

Marlins dancer Stephen Strasburg

The Miami Marlins may have the best distraction tactics in all of baseball. Prior to Friday’s game against the Washington Nationals, one of the Clevelander bartender girls decided to thrust her body against the bullpen wall and twerk it as Stephen Strasburg was warming up.

After seeing that picture, do you think it’s a coincidence that Strasburg allowed seven runs in two innings, marking his worst career start? I think not.

Based on this website, it looks like the Clevelander girls only get $4.77/hour (is that even legal?). This chick definitely deserves a raise.

And the best part about that photo was the little dude snapping a cell phone pic from point-blank range. That takes some balls.

H/T Records and Radio
Photo: GyngaSnap

Stephen Strasburg wants Davey Johnson to ‘loosen the leash,’ let him pitch deeper

Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was not shy about the fact that his innings cap in 2012 frustrated him a great deal. This year, however, the Nationals have not put a limit on how much the 24-year-old can throw. That doesn’t mean the team will stop being careful with him.

For example, Strasburg threw seven shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds in his first start of the year and allowed only three hits. Despite the fact that he finished the seventh with a pitch count of 80 and a two-run lead, manager Davey Johnson went to the bullpen. Strasburg is hoping that changes as the season moves on.

“I’ve learned to scale back and realize not necessarily throwing as hard as you can every time is the right recipe, so I try and scale back a little bit and I definitely try to hit my spots a little bit better,” Strasburg told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny on Thursday. “And my goal is to go deep into the ballgame every time out, and that’s all I’m really focused on right now and hopefully I can keep doing that.

“…And hopefully Davey Johnson will loosen the leash here a little bit at some point [laughs] and let me go past the seventh. I think I am more focused on the eighth inning.”

Strasburg held out hope until the last second that he might pitch in the postseason last year, and his wish didn’t come true. While you can understand him being upset about that, you can’t blame Johnson and the Nationals for being conservative with him early in the season. Washington is a legitimate World Series contender, but an unhealthy Strasburg could take them out of the running.

Thanks to Sports Radio Interviews for the transcription
Photo Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Stephen Strasburg hits Chase Utley, Roy Halladay throws behind Tyler Moore

Roy-HalladayRoy Halladay has better control than most starting pitchers in baseball, but at least one pitch got away from him during Wednesday’s spring training game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. Or did it?

Stephen Strasburg hit Chase Utley in the calf with a pitch in the third inning. Halladay responded in the fourth by throwing behind Nationals outfielder Tyler Moore.

“Yeah, that slipped,” Halladay said after the game.

The right-hander then elaborated, basically admitting that he was sending a message.

“We do need to protect our guys to an extent,” Halladay continued. “I’m not saying that’s what happened — it slipped — but I think that’s important. We’ve had a lot of guys hit over the years and I think as a staff we need to do a good job of protecting those guys. Spring training I don’t think you’re necessarily trying to do it, but it wouldn’t have been the worst thing had (the pitch hit Moore).”

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Stephen Strasburg won’t completely rule out pitching in the playoffs

Either Stephen Strasburg is under strict orders to not give a definitive answer about whether or not he’s pitching in the postseason, or he was just trying to have fun with the MLB Network crew on Monday night. After the Nationals clinched their first NL East division title in team history, Strasburg spoke with analysts Mitch Williams and Harold Reynolds. The conversation was, shall we say, intriguing.

Williams asked Strasburg if there was some sort of “covert operation” going on behind the scenes that nobody knows about that would result in him pitching in the postseason. He gave the following answer (you can watch the interview here).

“Uh, you know, we’ll have to wait and see,” Strasburg said according to D.C. Sports Bog. “I’ve been playing catch and everything. But I think this team is very, very capable of taking it all the way.”

Reynolds then chimed in and said he wasn’t buying the answer, pointing out that Strasburg was smirking. The Nats ace then began smiling even more, and he certainly was given an adequate chance to assure everyone he won’t be pitching — but he didn’t.

“Well, all I can say is it’s pretty tough,” Strasburg added. “But times like these, it just makes it all the better. It was awesome to be able to witness this and experience it, and I know we’re going on to bigger and better things.”

When asked if he would be hitting in the postseason, Strasburg didn’t deny that either. Obviously he wont have a bat in his hands, so it’s possible he was just having some fun and didn’t want to give any definitive answers. That being said, the Nationals seem pretty intent on shutting him down until next season. Does that mean he won’t throw an inning in relief if the team feels they could use him? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE