Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Riggleman gets his chance.

Jim Riggleman will get his chance tonight to prove to us that he actually has learned from his experiences from the 1998 season.

Stephan Strasburg will be making his big league debut tonight against the Pirates.  Strasburg was the number 1 pick in the draft last year and has been considered one of the best pitchers ever to come out of college.  The Nationals started him out in the minor leagues this season where he absolutely dominated. 

Now Jim Riggleman is wildly accused to have been the cause of the destruction of Kerry Wood's arm.  I have made arguments in the past to support this theory, but bad mechanics were probably a major contributing factor as well.  Even with the addition of Strasburg tot their roster, it is unlikely that the Nationals are going to compete for a playoff spot this season (even with their better than expected start to this season).  The drive toward the playoffs in 1998 was what drove Riggleman to overwork Wood in the first place.

But Kerry Wood isn't the player that most people would ever compare Strasburg to...that player is Mark Prior, who, at the time, was considered one of the best college pitchers ever.   While Prior wasn't the #1 pick in the 2001 draft, he was considered by many as the best talent in that draft.  The Twins had the #1 pick that year and chose the much more sign-able (and cheaper) Joe Mauer...which left Prior to fall into the Cubs' lap with the #2 pick.  If we had only known.

At the time, people said that Prior had perfect mechanics and that he was almost immediately ready for pitching in the big leagues once he was drafted.

The parallels right now are a little frightening.  The Nationals waited almost 2 weeks longer before bringing Strausburg up.  Mark Prior made his big league debut on May 22nd.

Strausburg was far more dominating in the minor leagues than Mark Prior was in 2002...and many people have projected him out much better than they ever did with Mark Prior.

The Nationals have put a rather strict inning count on the kid for this season (95?)...they seem to be doing everything right.

But as a Cubs fan, you have to look at Strasburg and wonder would could have been with Wood and Prior.