Monday, April 16, 2012

Know Your Enemy: April 16

The Astros continue their 10-game stretch against the NL East with a three-game series against the Nationals, who are 7-3 and leading the NL East. They had won five straight games before losing 8-5 against Cincinnati in 11 innings yesterday.

The Nationals were 3-3 against the Astros in 2011, and were 2-1 at home. The two teams have split the series 10-10 since 2009. In Game 1 of the series, they will face...

*6'4" 220lb 23-year old RHP Stephen Strasburg.
*Strasburg was the #1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, signing a four-year $15.1m contract on August 17, 2009 - the contract getting sent in 77 seconds before the 2009 deadline to sign draft picks.
*Strasburg made his MLB debut on June 8, 2010 against Pittsburgh, striking out 14 batters (a team record) in 7IP, one short of the MLB record for strikeouts in a debut game, held by Karl Spooner and our very own J.R. Richard.
*In two starts in 2012, his fastball has averaged 95mph, with his changeup coming in at 88.2mph, and his curveball at 79.8mph.
*9% of his pitches result in a swinging strike, and he's throwing a first-pitch strike 56% of the time. Only 20.2% of his pitches outside the zone are getting flailed at, (small sample size, I know), down from 33.6% in 2011.
*This will be his first home start of the season, having thrown at Wrigley and at CitiField, going 1-0 with 13IP, 7H/1ER, 14K:4BB. He threw a career-high 108 pitches on April 11 against the Mets, with 39 non-contact swings.
*In seven PAs with runners in scoring position, Strasburg was allowed only a single , for a .286 OPS.
*He was teammates at San Diego State with Lancaster's Erik Castro, who was also drafted in 2009, in the 10th Round.
*Strasburg has only faced Houston once, in 2011 (his second game back from Tommy John surgery - yet allowed 3H/1ER, 4K:0BB in 3IP), but current Astros only have seven combined plate appearances against him - with Matt Downs and Carlos Lee getting the only hits.

*Kyle Weiland takes on the Nationals, and is coming off a disappointing debut against Atlanta, throwing 5IP, 8H/4ER, 5K:2BB, and 2HR allowed.
*He has never faced any National before.

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