Stephen Strasburg will 'ease into' 2014
Stephen Strasburg, a big piece of the Nationals' near and long term future, spoke to MLB.com recently on his plan for the upcoming season:
"I want to get back to the swing of things, not really trying to go out there and give max effort every time," Strasburg said. "I'm trying to ease my way into the season and see what it's going to feel like. So I have to be there when it matters."
Strasburg also mentioned how his pain threshold may have increased, given the soreness he pitched through last season. That, coupled with his more flexible demeanor, makes for a rather formidable report from training camp - Stephen Strasburg has become more powerful... and cool?
In six games and 37.1 innings against the Phillies in his career, he's allowed 24 hits, 11 earned runs, four home runs, 42 strikeouts, and five walks. That's a 10.1 SO/9 ratio and an 8.4 SO/BB ratio. In 2013, he went 2-0 against the Phillies over 23 innings, allowing 11 hits - no home runs - walking three and striking out 29. His ERA was a microscopic 0.39.
Of course, players will say anything in these weeks leading up to the season, as there may not be a worse time to be pessimistic than before any games have actually been played.
While the news about his increasing strength and coolness is intimidating, the longer it takes Strasburg to warm up for the season, then the bigger the window is for any NL East rivals to slip through and beat him early on. For a pitcher of his caliber, they'll take what they can get.