Stephen Strasburg put on his usual show over the weekend, striking out 14 batters in seven innings against the No. 16 team in the country while improving to 9-0 with a 1.54 ERA on the season. However, the consensus No. 1 pick (and then some) also showed that he's human by running out of steam racking up a huge pitch count for the second straight start and eventually serving up a three-run homer in his final inning of work.
"I didn't want a walk there with two men on," Strasburg said. "I threw a fastball over the plate and I paid for it." At this point Strasburg simply giving up runs is a surprise, so a three-homer is nearly unheard of, but the bigger concern from his latest performance is that San Diego State pitching coach Rusty Filter allowed his 20-year-old phenom to throw 121 pitches one start after throwing 129 pitches.
Worse, he pitched two innings after complaining of cramping and dehydration. "I hit the wall in the sixth inning," Strasburg said. "I don't know if it's because I had a complete game last week or not. I was cramping up. It was really a nagging thing." So what did Filter and head coach Tony Gwynn do to allow Strasburg to go beyond 120 pitches for the second straight outing?
"The cramp thing hit him about the fifth inning, so the trainers pumped a bunch of fluids in him and he was fine," Filter said. Wonderful. San Diego State's coaching staff is no doubt simply trying to win as many games as they can and they'll never have another pitcher like Strasburg, but is there no obligation to look past that night's Mountain West Conference game to a career that could be worth several hundred million dollars?
If nothing else Strasburg is six weeks from becoming perhaps the richest player in the history of the draft, yet he's throwing 250 pitches in back-to-back starts and pitching through cramping. Strasburg is often called the best college pitcher since Mark Prior, but if he follows the same unfortunate path professionally Filter may end being the next Dusty Baker.