Predictions for Stephen Strasburg Debut
by Trevor Whenham - 6/8/2010
Tonight we will be witness to the most hyped debut in baseball history when Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for the Washington Nationals. Strasburg was the first overall pick in last year's MLB Draft, and has been viewed as a can't-miss megastar for at least two years. The Internet has meant that people have been able to read about and watch him in ways and with ease like never before.
The public is obviously paying attention, too, because this line is moving like few I have ever seen - it opened with Washington favored at -165, and here on Tuesday morning you can find it at -230 and it hasn't stopped yet. There's also a wide range of prop bets available unlike we see for any other pitcher at any time. This debut, against the Pirates, couldn't possibly be more interesting. It also gives us a whole lot to think about in terms of predictions for his debut, including:
Expectations - Expectations for Strasburg couldn't possibly be higher. He's only 21, but he has a fastball that touches 100 mph, and a curve that curves so much it almost turns around and comes back to him. There is no doubt that this guy is extremely good. His time in Double-A and Triple-A has been consistently good and often brilliant. He has outclassed the hitters he faced, and done it while facing nearly unprecedented scrutiny and excitement. At no point in his career so far has he given us any reason to believe that he is anything other than people say he is. The public obviously believes in him - the line movement tells us as much. The betting volume is high - especially considering that this is a Tuesday night game between two lousy teams that people normally couldn't care less about.
Those expectations have led - at the very least - to the value being bet right out of the Nationals. You could probably justify betting on Strasburg if you wanted to be a part of the spectacle, but if you are concerned about making sure that the potential reward is greater than the risk involved in a bet then this is a long way from a good bet. There's something from that that is important to remember, though - just because the Nationals are a lousy value bet here it doesn't necessarily mean that the Pirates are a good bet. The more realistic alternative to betting on Strasburg is to pass on the game.
Well-picked spot - The Nationals have shown a remarkable amount of restraint with Strasburg. They could have started him last fall - or at least given him bullpen time - but they didn't. They could have given him a spot on the roster out of training camp - like the Reds did with their star rookie Mike Leake - but they gave him 11 starts in the minor leagues instead. They could have let him pitch until he needed to come out, but he's been on a strict pitch count and was often pulled despite being very effective. They could have started him at any time, but they picked this spot perfectly to protect him.
Not only is he starting against the lowly Pirates, but if he stays on schedule then he'll face some lousy teams in his next starts as well - Cleveland, the White Sox, and Baltimore. Washington and good management have not been words you would use in the same sentence over the history of the franchise, but in this case they are certainly doing their job.
That careful management and the simple schedule could make it even harder to find value on Strasburg for a while - his likelihood of success is higher than it would be against likely playoff teams, and he'll look better against these teams than he might against elite squads, so there's a good chance that the public will be even more enthusiastically in support of the pitcher than they normally would be.
Adversity - When you look at Strasburg's career over the last couple of years one thing stands out - pretty much everything has gone his way. He's been consistently excellent, his pitches mostly go where they are supposed to, and he continues to succeed no matter who is watching him or what is on the line. He has almost never gotten himself into trouble over the last couple of years, and when he has it has disappeared as quickly as it popped up.
Now he is facing the best hitters in the world, and he'll continuously do it in front of crowds that will be large and reacting to his every pitch - at least until the novelty of his debut wears off. Sooner or later he's going to get into a situation he can't get out of, and he's going to face some real adversity. Until we see that happen we have no idea of how he is going to deal with it, and it won't be possible to have a full and complete picture of the kind of pitcher he is capable of being.
Most Recent Baseball Handicapping
- 2021 AL Central Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 NL West Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 NL East Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 AL West Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 NL Central Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 AL East Predictions and Expert Betting Advice
- 2021 Minnesota Twins Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Chicago White Sox Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Detroit Tigers Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
- 2021 Kansas City Royals Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series