Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw sure didn’t look like aces in their Spring Training debuts yesterday.
The Mets touched up Strasburg early. Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled to open the game and Ruben Tejada followed with a 2-run home run to make the game 2-0 before the Washington starter recorded a single out. Strasburg got David Wright and Ike Davis to ground out, gave up a bases-empty double to Marlon Byrd, then struck out Lucas Duda to round out the first inning.
Strasburg shook off the rocky start and tossed a perfect 1-2-3 second inning. His final line: 42 pitches over 2 innings, 3 hits, 2 earned runs and 1 strike out. A little rustiness should have been expected of the Washington hurler. Saturday’s was his first live game action since September 7, after which the Nationals shut him down for the remainder of the 2012 season to manage his innings total.
Kershaw was no better. The Dodgers left hander gave up 4 hits and 2 runs in the two innings of work against the White Sox, and was charged with an error. Alejandro De Aza opened the game with a single and later advanced to third on Kershaw’s error, an errant throw on a pickoff attempt at second. De Aza scored later in the first on an Alex Rios double. An Alexei Ramirez single and Gordon Beckham double in the second made it 2-0, as the Dodgers went on to fall to the White Sox 9-0. One positive from the outing: Kershaw did manage to strike out 3 batters.
Fans shouldn’t hang on either pitcher’s successes or failures this spring. Strasburg and Kershaw are locks to open the 2013 season as the aces of their respective staffs. For pitchers not battling to make the Opening Day roster, Spring Training is more about conditioning their arms, working on mechanics, and perfecting their arsenal of pitches in simulated game action than about trying to notch victories and pile up statistical superlatives. It is not uncommon to see pitchers trying to make big league rosters to outperform veteran, proven guys during Spring Training.