Ever since Strasburg's seven inning, 14 strikeout performance in his2010 MLB debut, expectations have been sky high for the former No. 1 overall pick. In fact, expectations have been too high. For years analysts and the general public would group Strasburg in with the top tier of starting pitchers, which only led to the belief that his underwhelming and injury shortened seasons were a disappointment. Through 2013 Strasburg's season by season statistics looked like this:
These numbers don't look that bad overall, but fans really wanted to see him put it all together for one dominant, Cy Young caliber season. 2014 looked like he was making that step. Strasburg led the National League with 34 games started and a whopping 242 strikeouts (in just 215 innings pitched). He finished ninth in the Cy Young voting with a 14-11 record and a 3.14 ERA.
Expectations were as high as ever entering 2015 and early on Strasburg could not have disappointed worse. Through mid May the ace had registered a 4.73 ERA, a reduced strikeout rate, and was struggling with a shoulder injury. It looked as if he would never recapture the magic from his 2010 debut.
However, since this low moment the 27-year-old has been nothing short of fantastic. Including this season's three starts Strasburg has a 1.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts over his last 103.2 innings pitched. His recent history looks even more appealing if we consider 2015's first half an outlier and extend this run of dominance to his very impressive 2014 season. Thus far this season Strasburg is 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched.
This is a big year for Strasburg, a Scott Boras representative, as he is going to become a free agent afterwards. This past offseason the Yankees famously did not sign a single free agent, presumably clearing budget space to make a splash in the coming years. There has been speculation that they are gearing up for a run at Strasburg's teammate Bryce Harper in three years.
But three years is a long way away and if the Yankees miss the playoffs in 2016 they might be tempted to do whatever it takes to sign Strasburg. Whether it's the Yankees or somebody else, if Strasburg keeps pitching this way he could wind up commanding more than David Price's record setting seven year, $217 million deal with the Red Sox from this past offseason.