Before the names on the 2010 All-Star roster were announced, everyone in baseball seemed to believe that Stephen Strasburg should be a part of the NL squad which will attempt to beat the American League team for the first time since 1996, but since he was left of the list of players who'll participate, it seems everyone wants to believe that the right decision was made. USA Today writer Paul White appeared on Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio's Power Alley with guest hosts Jeff Joyce and Jeff Nelson yesterday to discuss the fact that the Nats' 21-year-old right-hander wasn't selected by NL Skipper Charlie Manuel:
Jeff Joyce: "Do you like the way that [the Nationals] have handled the whole thing? And I'm glad that A) He didn't make it to the All-Star team, and B) I'm kinda surprised that every story I see written the headline says, 'All-Stars Announced, Strasburg Not On Team...'"
USA Today's Paul White: "Yeah, I know...I don't mind the headlines saying that because enough people had made an issue out of it, so it was like, ok, he's not on it, there, get over it people. I think they've handled it well. If you ask people around the Nationals, they haven't pushed it, at the same time, they're not going to sit there and say, 'Oh no, he shouldn't go.' I mean, you've gotta support your guy. But at the same time, look at what we're talking about here today, about people being left off, guys having a great first-half...a Mike Pelfrey for instance, you know, guys who really deserved to be there, those guys aren't on the team to begin with and you're going to bump somebody else off for a kid that's only played a handful of games. And yeah, he's a great pitcher, he's incredible to watch, he's created a lot of buzz around baseball, everywhere he plays they get a big attendance bump, but that's just not fair to the other guys who've put up really great seasons.
DC GM Mike Rizzo did actually come out after the decision was made to leave Strasburg off the NL roster and say that he didn't think the young starter deserved the nod, telling Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore (as reported via Twitter @adamkilgoreWP) that, "'As far as his numbers and his stats, I don't believe he deserved to be on the all-star team.'" Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman, in an appearance last week on Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "First Pitch" with Rob Dibble and Jim Memolo, told the hosts, "If you put a gun to my head and said 'Should he? Or shouldn't he?' [go to the All-Star Game] I would probably say, 'No.'"
Bob Ryan, sitting in for Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon both weighed in on the Strasburg/ASG story during yesterday's (7/5/10) PTI broadcast, dedicating a little over a minute to the topic:
• Michael Wilbon: "Should we really be talking about Stephen Strasburg as an All-Star after six starts?"
Bob Ryan: "I say, and I flipped on this because I'm a traditionalist in most ways, but in this particular case, he is the hottest sensational name, it's barely been a month since he entered into our consciousness, and the stuff he has done, I know he's only got two wins, but he's got strikeout totals and he's got sizzle!"
• Michael Wilbon: "He does, Bobby, that's undeniable, 53 strikeouts and 10 walks, that is an incredible ratio, we're talking about a rookie, I mean, this guy is fabulous to watch, living here in Washington, I mean, he is the no.1 sports person this summer, he has eclipsed everybody, including every Redskin, thank God, but six starts and two wins? Two wins, Bobby? It's not his fault, he had no run-support, he had a 0, a 0 and 1..."
Bob Ryan: "The last three starts, 0, 0, 1..."
• Michael Wilbon: "I get that, but you know what, too much too soon, let him stew and watch as he gets better and earn an appearance in the next All-Star Game..."
In hindsight, most are saying that the right decision was made, but before Strabsurg's last start, an article in the Newark Star-Ledger writer Andy McCullough entitled, "Numbers back hype surrounding Nationals rookie starter Stephen Strasburg", compared Strasburg's early returns to those of other pitchers around the majors this season, with Mr. McCullough writing that:
"Until the Nationals’ rookie burst onto the scene last month, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez threw the hardest fastball of any starter in baseball this year. He averages 96.4 mph. Seattle’s Felix Hernandez throws the hardest changeup at an average of 89.4 mph..."
Strasburg, according to info Mr. McCullough collected from Baseball Info Solutions, has a fastball that, "... on average clocks in at 97.5 mph..His changeup pops the gun at 89.8 mph." Strasburg's changeup, if the numbers stay the same as he builds up his stats, gets more swings and misses than those with the best changeups in baseball, (the Blue Jays' Shaun Marcum's change is cited as the previous best), and his curve matches up well in terms of horizontal movement and vertical dive with the likes of Cardinals' starters Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter according to Mr. McCullough.
Whether or not he's an All-Star this time around, Strasburg is quickly establishing himself as one of the elite pitchers in the majors, and as the Nationals struggle to get themselves back up around .500, Strasburg's providing just one more reason for Nats fans to turn out at Nationals Park or tune in when the team's on the road. Where or not he's an All-Star he's the Nationals' ace, and he's once again, just by failing to make the All-Star roster, brought more attention to the team than fans have come to expect at this point in the season, where, in the last two years, the Nationals were all but forgotten and ignored by the All-Star Break. Now the question is how he'll be used in the second half and when he'll be shut down for the year...How much more Strasburg will we get.