In his first post-Tommy John surgery season in 2012, 23-going-on-24-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, (who was on an innings limit in case you hadn't heard), managed to win fifteen games, rack up 197 Ks (11.13 K/9) and post a 3.16 ERA with a 2.82 FIP in a +4.3 fWAR campaign. Strasburg will be pitching without restrictions in 2013, and as good as he has been so far in his career, the Nats' ace continues to work to improve his game. As he explained to reporters earlier this Spring, the right-hander is working on his sinker and trying to make it a more effective weapon he can use to attack National League hitters this summer.
Strasburg has made three starts so far in Grapefruit League action, giving up 11 hits, three walks and five runs in 8.2 IP in which he's K'd 13 (13.50 K/9) batters. "I'm just trying to go out there [and] pound the strike zone," Strasburg told MLB Network Radio hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette this morning when asked in an interview from the Nats' Spring home in Viera, Florida what he was working on this Spring. "Trying to get fastball command back," the pitcher continued, "mix in some changeups, work on all of your offspeed [pitches] and really just try to fine tune it and get a little more [sharp] as you get more starts under your belt."
After a 2/28 Grapefruit League start against the New York Mets, Strasburg talked to reporters, as quoted in an AP/USA Today article at the time, about the work he was doing to "get a better feel" for his sinker and what adjustments he's made as he prepares for the 2013 campaign. "'I need to get over the idea of throwing it harder will make it better,'" Strasburg said:
"I feel like I'm just kind of throwing through the sink and it's kind of flattening out. I want to throw it a little bit slower, let it move a little bit more and I'll get better results."
Strasburg elborated on what he said was a bit of a breakthrough with his sinker in this morning's MLB Network Radio interview. "I think I kind of had a little, kind of like a breakthrough," Strasburg said, "For the longest time I'd think to get more sink you have to throw it harder and I think I was throwing a little too hard and throwing through the sink, so I just started to try to take a little bit off and I was starting to get more of the result I wanted, which is obviously a ground ball."
When he's trying to throw it for a strike, Strasburg was asked, did he throw at a particular target, or just throw it down the middle and let the movement take it where it goes? "Depends on the situation," Strasburg explained, "Depends on the count. Obviously it depends on who's in the box. If you've got a guy that's going to be taking more pitches, you want to throw it more for a strike. But if you've got a guy that's a free swinger, you want to work more corners with it."
In addition to talking about the work he's done to improve his sinker, Strasburg talked about new teammate Dan Haren and the expectations the team has for the 2013 campaign. Check out the entire MLB Network Radio interview below: