Friday, April 10, 2009

On the Road with SDSU Baseball

I join you from my hotel room in Las Vegas, feeling just about the way most people feel the 3rd day they wake up in this town: worn out and dehydrated.  There is something about Sin City, between the dry, desert air, and that bizarre smoky-yet-not inner casino air, that just sucks the moisture right out of you.  But enough about me.  As Tony Gwynn said on the bus last night, this is a business trip, and the Aztecs have taken care of business so far, winning last night's opener against UNLV by a 15-4 count at windswept Earl Wilson Stadium.

As the bus pulled up to the stadium yesterday, the flags atop the press box almost served as a taunt as well as a warning: Abandon Hope, All Ye Pitchers Who Enter Here.  The three flags were starched in the 35+ MPH breeze, all three pointing directly out from home plate to center field.  The tiny flags circling the outfield fence all seemed to be pointing directly out, no matter which field you looked at.  Any contact that got up in the air was going to be trouble.  The Aztecs' counter-offer was a pitcher who doesn't allow much contact, Stephen Strasburg.  

Strassy wasn't bad by any means last night, but he wasn't in supreme command either.  The Rebels touched him up for 7 hits in 6 innings, but Strasburg still struck out 13, walked only one, and held UNLV to one run.  His fastball was getting hit a little bit, so Stephen relied on the slider to help him through.  It also looked like his mechanics were a bit off, as Strasburg was getting out in front and yanking some pitches way off the plate.  But in the end UNLV was still no match for college baseball's best.  

It was on offense where the Aztecs made the most headway on Thursday, with the bottom of their order erupting to score seven runs.  Easton Gust and Ryan O'Sullivan not only had three hit nights, but both used the whole field and played their best offensive games of the season.  O'Sullivan is the kid this SDSU coaching staff would love to get going with the bat, and he looked sharp last night, hitting an outside fastball to right-center for a double before pulling a single in his next plate appearance.  

Erik Castro continues to maul opposing pitchers.  He got a fat pitch in the middle innings and absolutely lost it in the night, blasting a three-run homer that simply disappeared.  I can't tell you if it was wind-aided or not.  The ball might have just vaporized.  Pat Colwell and Brandon Decker also continued their fine table-setting, with both extending their hitting streaks, to 11 and 13 games respectively.  

Today the Aztecs went right back to UNLV for batting practice, and they will play game two of the weekend series tonight at 7pm on  Jon Berger, the changeup specialist, gets the ball against UNLV freshman Tanner Peters.  Berger struck out 10 over 8 innings, allowing just one run in his first matchup with the Rebels this year.  He will be tested by the conditions today without question.  Last year SDSU and UNLV played an 18-16 game here...but as long as the Aztecs keep putting up the big run totals, their pitching staff should have enough to at least limit the windswept damage against an overmatched Rebels squad.  


  1. Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, has ranked Stephen Strasburg the #3 prospect in the 2009 MLB Draft. View his free scouting report (with video) at

  2. I'm curious what Mr. Elsten's take is on the above 'RBI' draft evaluation of Stephen Strasburg...

  3. My take is, it's pretty damn stupid. Did you click through and read their justification for putting the Missouri pitcher Gibson ahead of Strasburg? Is it stuff? Stats? Mechanics?

    None of that. Their reason is one alone: SHUTOUTS

    Some kookoo career corellation between shutouts and fastball speed, with shutouts being more important.

    Leaving out the obvious question: WHY doesn't Strasburg have any shutouts?

    Answer: because Tony Gwynn won't burn out his ace's arm, he holds him to 100-115 pitches per start, and a power pitcher who whiffs almost 18 per 9IP is going to be hard pressed to finish 9IP on 115 pitches.

    If Tony was an old-school damn-the-torpedos college coach, Strasburg would have 3-4 shutouts now, and his arm would start hurting in two years. Then their little metric would put him back on top.

    An excellent example of how numbers alone can never tell the story. And that statement comes from me, a big "numbers guy".

  4. I remember when we took Nick Schmidt in 2007 out of Arkansas and upon hearing that he was a workhorse who could eat up innings.....I crapped myself!

    Sure enough he was on the cutting table shortly after the draft.

    Can we pass along RBI's metrics to the Nationals and Mariners....they really should be aware that Strasburg is poor value.