- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Stephen Strasburg pitched again Tuesday night, meaning he is one start closer to the fast-approaching end of his 2012 season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of options the Nationals and Strasburg have at their disposal to keep him on the mound late into October.
Become a pitcher, not a thrower -- Why does Strasburg need to throw a 98 mph fastball? Back that down to 65 or 70 mph and he’d save a ton of stress on his arm. Pitching isn’t about velocity, it’s about location, location, location. That’s one of those things baseball people say, like, all the time. And how many times have we all heard about Greg Maddux and his success? According to the legend, that guy couldn’t throw a baseball faster than 39 mph. But it didn’t matter. Because he knew how to PITCH.
Vary pitches -- Why even throw a fastball at all? Why throw a curveball? Curveballs are hard on the arm. Ask any Little League coach. Strasburg can stay on the mound indefinitely if he throws just three pitches: changeup, knuckleball and eephus. Yes, Strasburg should bring back the eephus.
Throwing an eephus may not look tough, like a fastball, but if that’s a concern, then Strasburg cares more about his image than winning. End of discussion.
Vary arms -- Greg Harris pitched in the major leagues from 1981 to 1995. He won 74 games and struck out more than 1,100 batters: both better than Strasburg’s career totals. Why else was Harris a superior pitcher to Strasburg? He was ambidextrous and could pitch with either arm. Have the Nationals even once tried to have Strasburg pitch left-handed? And if they have and he failed at it, is he really even that great of a pitcher? No. The answer is no. Stephen Strasburg is no Greg Harris.
Sit the whole team until the playoffs -- What makes Strasburg so special? Is he the only guy on the Nationals who has ever been injured? Is he the only guy they’ve made a long-term investment in? Jayson Werth gets hurt constantly and makes way more money and is also a slightly better hitter than Strasburg. Why not sit him, too?
The point is this: The Nationals already have 77 wins and are in an awful division. They can not play another game all season and still win the division and make the playoffs. The Phillies, Mets and Marlins are all terrible and more than 16 games back. The Braves are only four games behind, but it’s almost September. If last year is any indication, Atlanta may not win another game. Washington should just rest its entire team now and have everyone rested for the postseason, Strasburg included.
Pitch more efficiently -- So Strasburg is running out of time and may have only two or three games left. Sure, if he throws 100 pitches in those games. A truly great pitcher can get through an entire game with a shutout in just 27 pitches. Fifteen in a rain-shortened game. Facts are facts. Or, make just one pitch count by “accidentally” throwing a “wild” pitch 98 mph that strikes Nationals GM Mike Rizzo in the head. The message will be sent and Strasburg will be allowed to pitch as long as he wants.