Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Some Notes About 102 mph Fastballs

Yes, everybody knows Stephen Strasburg can bring the gas, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that Scott Boras is probably not out of his mind pushing the envelope here. Think of how many pitchers have come into the league throwing 98+. Most of those pitchers did not gain velocity; as a matter of fact most immediately begin losing velocity. Basically, there should be no breaking in period. Strasburg is likely at his peak and he needs to cash in now. By the time he hits arbitration, he may only be throwing mid-90s and could be considered damaged goods.

Even in the event he doesn't start losing juice, he may not be able to maintain it. Take a look at Joel Zumaya. He has had some injuries, and shoulder stress fractures are not common. He struggles to keep velocity and health. Teammate Justin Verlander may be a better comparison, as he starts and can touch triple-digits. Last year he got pounded because he lost 2 mph. He seems to have rediscovered it in the meantime and is lights out. However, he will be a much greater risk as a free agent than a Johan Santana because he relies on velocity more than location and consistency.

For perspective, check out this list. Those four guys at the top of the list will cash in huge in their first year of free agency, despite injuries or erratic results. The two former Marlins behind them did, and they have been good, great sometimes, but rarely the model of consistency.

This is toughest negotiation for the Nats: how do they put a price on good, great sometimes? They price is always driven by "great all the time."

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