Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals fireballing phenom, will make his season debut today against the Dodgers. Last year, Strasburg went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA before undergoing the Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in September. He was on a rehab assignment by August, going 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA in six games. Tuesday’s start, against Ted Lilly, will be Strasburg’s first big league game since Aug. 21, 2010.
If Strasburg can pick up where he left off, last year he routinely posted a close to triple digit fastball and a wicked curve, the currently struggling Dodger offense will face quite a challenge.
Lilly, who had a 2.35 ERA in August after a mediocre June and July, is looking for his first three-game winning streak of the season.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly wants more offense for 2012. Mattingly says the team needs to boost its offensive production, but that could deplete the team’s pitching, one of its few strong points.
More from Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:
…Don Mattingly said that if he had to decide between the Dodgers‘ adding a quality bat or a quality arm over the winter, he would take the bat. “A solid bat is something we’ve got to have or we’ll right back to where we were,” Mattingly said. By that, he means before their mid-July acquisition of Juan Rivera, who has helped transform the Dodgers’ offense from abysmal to respectable. “It tells you what one bat can do to your lineup,” Mattingly said.
But at what cost? With the Dodgers in bankruptcy and their ownership situation in limbo, adding offense could force them to subtract pitching. Starting pitching has been about the only part of the organization that hasn’t appeared compromised by its financial troubles.
Anchored by Cy Young Award candidate Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ rotation has the third-lowest earned-run average in the National League behind the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers were designed this way. They went into spring training with six established starters — Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla, who was sent to the bullpen.
When Garland and Padilla went down because of season-ending injuries, they called up top prospect Rubby De La Rosa, who was armed with a 100-mph fastball. When De La Rosa was lost to an elbow operation, they replaced him with another top prospect, Nathan Eovaldi. “Every time we walk out there, you feel like you have a starter who’s going to keep you in the game and give you a chance to win,” Mattingly said…
This Day in Dodgers History
September 6, 1981 – With his seventh blanking, Dodger lefty Fernando Valenzuela ties the major league rookie record for shutouts beating the Cardinal, 5-0.