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Stephen Strasburg’s best pitch is his change up. It’s time he leans into this.
In June of 2010, Stephen Strasburg made his Major League debut. For top prospects, often the hype is insane, and rarely do they live up. Strasburg did. I’m sure you all remember Strasmas as he got 14 strikeouts in 7 innings. He absolutely dominated with a fastball touching triple digits, an unhittable slurve, a changeup in the low 90’s, and a then unheard of 95 MPH sinker.
In June of 2022, 12 years later, a very different Stephen Strasburg made his return from thoracic outlet syndrome. This time, he was charged with 7 runs over 4.2 innings. He wasn’t nearly as bad as that number claims, as he was expected to only give up only 2 ⅓ runs. However, he wasn’t anything like his previous version of himself.
He is a fundamentally different pitcher, in fact when you compare 2016 Stras vs 2022 Stras, you can see he’s lost almost 5 MPH.
The problem is, Strasburg pitched like he still had that fastball. He refused to throw a changeup until the second inning! In the first inning where he relied on the four seam and curve, he gave up 3 runs. In the second, where he heavily utilized el cambio, he struck out the side on 12 pitches. Strasburg should look into Felix Hernandez, who relied on his changeup late in his career, as they both have fairly similar reasons why throwing it a ton makes sense.
Their fastballs were well below average in both velocity, and movement.
THEIR CHANGEUPS ARE JUST THAT GOOD.
You shouldn’t read this as an indictment of Strasburg, but rather a love letter to his change, which generated a great 7 whiffs on just 19 pitches, and was responsible for 3 out of his 5 strikeouts. Furthermore, he could throw it for a called strike, making it very viable as a primary pitch.
If he can raise that CH% up to maybe 25-27%, we might see a very different, and still dominant Strasburg. What’s weird is I think he could still very well be a legitimate strikeout pitcher. Is it too early to tell, maybe? But there is a very clear roadmap, and I’m excited to see if he follows it.