When the Astros have been in the postseason, there have been frequent conversations about the club’s ability to spot ways the opposing pitchers tip their pitches. It was just three weeks ago, after all, that Rays starter Tyler Glasnow admitted he was tipping pitches during an abbreviated start against the Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS.
Stephen Strasburg got the start for the Nationals in Game 6 of the World Series and it turns out that he, too, was tipping his pitches to the Astros. He surrendered two runs in the first inning. George Springer swatted a 112 MPH double off of the wall in left field, advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on José Altuve’s deep fly ball to left field. Alex Bregman followed up by planting a Strasburg fastball in the seats in left field. Yuli Gurriel ended the inning with the deepest of fly balls to left-center field just to the right of the Crawford Boxes.
From that point on, Strasburg was money. He wouldn’t allow another run the rest of the way, pitching into the ninth inning. He got the first out of the ninth inning before acting manager Chip Hale brought in lefty Sean Doolittle for the final two outs. Strasburg was on the hook for just the two runs on five hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts on 104 pitches.
During his postgame interview with Tom Verducci on the Fox broadcast, Strasburg said that pitching coach Paul Menhart noticed that the right-hander was tipping his pitches. Strasburg started to wiggle his glove to throw the Astros’ hitters off his trail. Strasburg’s full response:
Verducci: Two runs in the first inning, nothing thereafter. What was the change you made?
Strasburg: Started shaking my glove so they didn’t know what I was throwing. Obviously, they look for certain things and I just thank Menhart for giving me the tip.
Verducci: […] Tell me about how [Menhart] saw that, or did you recognize that?
Strasburg: I definitely didn’t. It’s something that has burned me in the past, and they burned me there in the first. It’s just a part of the game. You gotta do your best to stay consistent in your delivery on each pitch.
Both Strasburg and Menhart have seen their stocks rise this October. Strasburg, who can opt out of his contract next week, now boasts a career 1.46 ERA in 55 1/3 postseason innings.