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MissChatter: My Official Strasburg Debut Prediction

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MissChatter: My Official Strasburg Debut Prediction

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:30am

By Miss Chatter
CSNwashington.com

I'm going to go ahead and call June 4th as my best guesstimate of the date Stephen Strasburg makes his MLB debut. I began thinking there was a possibility he'd debut in San Diego on the road, but after last night's shortened start in AAA, I'm fairly confident it'll be June 4th at home against the Reds.

Making his debut on the road didn't seem terribly far-fetched because Strasburg not only attended San Diego State but the city is also his birthplace. While it would be heartbreaking for fans dying to see him take the major league mound for the first time at home, it'd be an honor for him to debut in front of friends and family and save them some travel expense. Drew Storen debuted within driving distance of his home in Indiana after all. On the other hand, as I've learned in karaoke, nerves rattle far worse in front of people you know than a stadium (room) full of complete strangers. If it comes down to a baseball decision based on current injuries if he were to debut on the road, I think many fans would understand but the resulting backlash from others may be on the scale of opening day when Phillies fans filled Nationals Park.

With Scott Olsen landing on the disabled list, a pitcher will need to fill in for his May 29th start. One turn could be missed due to yesterday's day off, but the next time through the rotation needs a body. Since the Nats have returned to .500 ball after a slight dip, do they continue playing to win? If so, it would seem going through roster gymnastics or a short bullpen to call someone up for a spot start or move Miguel Batista into a temporary starting role may not be worth the effort. May 29th would be Strasburg's next start on his current schedule after he started last night against the Toledo Mud Hens in AAA. June 4th pads an extra day in.

I was baffled as to why Strasburg was relieved from his starter duties after only 52 pitches last night. I thought he was at the stage in development where the Nationals planned to stretch him out closer to 100 total pitches in a game. So why pull him at barely over 50? Sure, he allowed a couple hits and the Mud Hens managed to score on him, but the Chiefs and Hens were tied at 2-2 at that point.

If you believe this Letter to the Washington Nationals where San Diegans plead for the Nationals to bring Strasburg up for his debut on the road during the May 28-30 series, they point out the plan for Strasburg has been to pitch 50 innings in the minor leagues, saving about 100 for the major league club. After his five innings last night, Strasburg is already at 45.1 innings pitched. Supposing he goes out for one more start with the Syracuse Chiefs and presumably pitches 5 more innings, he smacks right into 50 total innings pitched in the minors before being called up to the show. If that plan truly is the case still, then Strasburg being pulled last night after five innings makes perfect sense and indicates he will indeed make one more start with the Chiefs, debuting at home the following week.

As others have pointed out, if Strasburg debuts on June 4th, he will get two home starts before the following road trip, and tickets have been going fast for the home stand. To ensure a viewing of the pitching phenom at Nationals Park, fans can still only guess and Stan Kasten quipped to purchase season tickets as usual. I can't imagine the Nationals would give away the ticket sales boon to another team even if they are already reaping benefits of the guessing game, yet starting Strasburg on the road doesn't seem as unimaginable as it did a month ago. Still, I'm sticking with the first week of June, which also guarantees he is beyond the Super Two date.

In the meantime, sports t-shirt designer extraordinaire 289 has designed rocking Strasburg t-shirts just in time for ordering before filling Nationals Park in less than two weeks.

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Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Familiarity makes Matt Adams’ return to the Nationals an easy call

Comfort carries allure for most. That includes Matt Adams.

He knew when traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in August a chance for a return to Washington existed. Adams got along with all levels of staff while operating quietly at his locker and pulverizing right-handed pitching on the field. The hole he filled in 2018 would exist again in 2019, so why couldn’t he return?

It all seems so simple, and it turned out to be. Adams’ one-year deal for $4 million, which includes a mutual option for 2020, was announced Tuesday by the Nationals after first being reported during the weekend. The left-handed bench piece Washington needed is in place for this season. It could well be back in 2020 when the team’s first base personnel could undergo a large change if Ryan Zimmerman’s option is not picked up.

“I don’t follow too much of the media stuff in the offseason,” Adams said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

“But the way that everything was left when I was traded, we were on good communication, up until that point. Everything that was said leading up to that trade, if the opportunity presented itself [to return] I would be on their list. I’m kind of lost for words, because I’m excited for this opportunity. But I think the team is definitely going to be better than it was last year, with the acquisitions that [Mike Rizzo] has made so far this offseason.”

Adams is pleased he’s not hunting a job until late into February. More frequently role players are without homes for most of, if not all of, the pre-spring training portion of the offseason. Adams is settled a week before Christmas.

“For me, the way my brain and myself works, the later I sign, the more freaked out I'm going to be,” Adams said. “Because it's the unknown that's out there. Not knowing where you're going to go, how many people you're going to know on that team you're going to sign with...For me, I was lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to sign back with the Nats where I know everybody and I get along with absolutely everybody from front office to coaches and all the players. For me, it felt like the right opportunity and I was just fortunate to get the deal done when we got it done.”

Adams’ value lays in his potency against right-handed pitching. He hit 20 of his 21 home runs last season against right-handers. This is in line with his career arc that includes 83 of his 96 home runs against right-handed throwers. Adams also slugged .538 against right-handed pitchers while with the Nationals last season. 

He’s again positioned to platoon at first base and be summoned to hit late in games. Adams played much more often than anticipated last season following Zimmerman’s languishing oblique injury. 

“I think it’s just coming up with that mindset of being ready whether your name’s called or not,” Adams said. “Whether it’s on an everyday basis or, like you said, sporadic, here and there, pinch-hitting off the bench, filling in and giving Zim a blow when he needs it. But I think going into spring training in the best shape I can possibly be in, going in ready to get better, ready to work. And wherever the season takes me playing-time wise, I’m just excited to be on a winning club with a good chance to get back to the postseason.”

Bringing Adams back reduces the Nationals’ offseason list. They need a fourth starter. They are considering a full-time second baseman. Another bench option is also part of the hunt, though it’s reliant on what happens at second base (Wilmer Difo/Howie Kendrick could fill that spot if an every day second baseman is signed). Left-handed bench bat is spoken for.

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

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What’s Christmas like in North Pole, Alaska? Cold, says Pheonix Copley of his hometown

Ever wonder what Christmas at the North Pole is like? Just ask someone who’s been there like Capitals goalie Pheonix Copley.

Copley calls the North Pole home. North Pole, Alaska that is.

North Pole is a small town outside of Fairbanks (population of 2,232). Copley wears two candy canes on the bottom of his goalie mask in tribute to his hometown.

As you would expect, Christmas is a big deal back home, not just in December but year round. Santa Claus Lane cuts through the center of town and visitors can see the Santa Claus House located on St. Nicholas Drive.

“They definitely try and make it a theme in the town,” Copley said. “Light poles and stuff are candy canes, Christmas lights year round at places, businesses.”

Christmas itself, however, is more low-key for the people there than you would expect, according to Copley. As fun as the town name may be, there is one big drawback to December in North Pole: the weather.

“It's so cold up there, it's like not much really to do outside [at Christmas],” Copley said. “They do do ice sculptures and stuff so they go a little bit with it, but it's so cold and dark that not a whole lot going on up there.”

According to The Weather Channel, the forecast for Christmas day calls for a high of -8 degrees. That is a veritable heat-wave considering it is not supposed to get above -13 degrees in the five days leading up to Christmas. You can also expect there to be less than four hours of daylight.

That may sound miserable to some, but Copley always enjoyed making the trip home for the holidays.

“Especially growing up when I first started leaving, I was going home at Christmas and it was nice to see the whole family again and get to celebrate the holidays and stuff,” he said. “For myself, Christmas has always been a fun time. Just being from North Pole, I always get a lot of jokes and stuff about it.”

Now on the other side of the country and with only a few days between games, Copley will not make the long trip back home during the team’s Christmas break. Instead, he will remain in D.C. and, as he admitted, will enjoy a warmer Christmas.

But he still wouldn’t mind a little snow.

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