ALTOONA, PA - APRIL 11: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Harrisburg Senators walks back to the dugout inbetween innings during the game against the Altoona Curve on April 11, 2010 at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Either Stephen Strasburg's reading his own press, his coaches are seeing the same things, or he's indentified on his own something that changes when he faces adversity that scouts like ESPN.com's Keith Law have noticed when Strasburg struggles like he did on Sunday afternoon in what many believe will be his final start with Double-AA Harrisburg, though after Strasburg gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, 3 ER in his 5th professional start, Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin noted, in an article entitled, "Stephen Strasburg takes first professional loss, still impresses Nationals officials", that, "...a Nationals official said there would be no promotion, at least not on Sunday."
After Strasburg's first Double-AA start, in which he gave up 4 hits, 2 walks and 4 runs, 1 earned in 5.0 IP against the same Altoona Curve team he faced yesterday, ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote in a post at his blog entitled, "Reporting from Strasburg's Double-A debut", that after a Curve hitter had connected on (an eyes closed) double, Strasburg, in Mr. Law's words, "...became more tentative with his fastball, working down or away but not in for the next few hitters, an inexcusable approach for a guy who couldn't throw anything under 97."
When the aggressive Altoona hitters got to Strasburg again in his fifth start with the Harrisburg Senators, connecting on a few weak hits and taking advantage of some questionable defense by his teammates, the 21-year-old right-hander told the gathered press, as recorded by the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin, that days like Sunday are a learning experience:
"'That's the greatest thing about these types of days. That's when you can learn the most. As a pitcher, I went away from just consistently throwing the same quality pitches in the strike zone, because they did put it in play and get on base. Instead, I tried to make an even better pitch, and that's when I went out of the strike zone."
MLB.com writer Zach Schonbrun wrote in a post game article entitled, "Strasburg endures first shaky start", yesterday that Nats' '09 no. 1 overall pick's struggles were, in part at least, due to, "...a tight strike zone by umpire Jon Byrne, a trigger-happy Curve lineup, and some uncharacteristic wildness," and the Washington Post's Mr. Sheinin seems to agree, noting that for the first time, Strasburg, "... occasionally let his frustration show,":
"He froze at the end of his delivery when home-plate umpire Jon Byrne didn't give him a close call. He turned away in disgust. And at the end of the third inning, Strasburg stared down Byrne as he exited the field..."
While staring the Ump down as he walks off the mound is probably not a good habit to develop, it does seem that Strasburg's aware of the sort of issues scouts are noticing in his own game, and it's the little things like that he's supposed to be working on in the minors as he prepares for his MLB debut, so that the first time he faces adversity as a National, he doesn't glare at the Umpire or become tentative or try to become too fine with his location, but instead trusts his stuff and dials his fastball up to the high '90's speeds he's capable of reaching and blows even major league batters away like he did against Miguel Cabera in his first Spring outing...