The 'new' Stephen Strasburg

Pitching to contact is not making the flamethrower more efficient

Updated: April 19, 2013, 4:04 PM ET
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider
Stephen StrasburgRob Carr/Getty ImagesIf Stephen Strasburg is trying to keep his pitch count down, he's doing it wrong.

Stephen Strasburg had his workload managed for him last season, and he wasn't particularly thrilled about it. This year, Strasburg is attempting to manage his own workload, adopting a pitch-to-contact approach to get batters out, keep his pitch counts down and help him stay fresh for September and October. The only problem is that it might not actually make things any better.

In the 251 innings Strasburg pitched from 2010 to 2012, opposing batters made contact just 74 percent of the time they swung the bat, the third-lowest rate in the majors for a starting pitcher. The lack of contact translated into a 31 percent strikeout rate, easily the highest of any starter. Clayton Kershaw, the pitcher with the next highest strikeout rate, checked in at 25.9 percent. The gap between Strasburg and Kershaw was as large as the gap between Kershaw and Anibal Sanchez.


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