Final thoughts on Stephen Strasburg's debut, plus links
There were several things you could take away from Stephen Strasburg's debut yesterday. One is, he's not long for the minor leagues. Another is, there is no place he'd rather be -- except for maybe taking a walk with Bentley, his Yorkie -- than on a pitching mound and away from the "craziness" surrounding him. Yet another is, he is not content to merely blow his fastballs by hitters. He is not merely a flamethrower; he's a pitcher.
Strasburg planned on throwing more breaking balls from the start, but adrenaline forced him to fall behind and then the Tigers kept swinging at his 97-mph sinking fastballs. In the second, he was able to show his full arsenal -- 81-mph breaking balls, 90-mph changeups, his four-seam fastball that made the radar gun go "crazy," catcher Wil Nieves said; it might have been 99 or 100 mph, he said.
His changeup is particularly fascinating. It is only 6 or 7 mph slower than fastball, a smaller disparity than the typical 10 to 15. But the pitch moves like a splitter, dropping viciously down at the plate. "What a real problem," pitching coach Steve McCatty deadpanned. His point: Who cares about the relatively small difference in speeds -- it's a great pitch.
And anyway, it may have the desired effect. Before Don Kelly singled, Strasburg threw him two consecutive changeups. He foul-tipped both, way out in front of each pitch.
"For me, it's not about speed," Strasburg said. "You got to trust your grip. It's a variation of your fastball. You shouldn't be slowing your arm down and trying to take off speed. The thing that's going to sell it is your arm speed. That's what I'm trying to go out there and do, just locate it down in the zone. Throw it on the seams like a changeup, and it's going to have some downward tilt to it. It could be 5, 6 mph lower and still be super-effective."
Strasburg was more effusive yesterday than he has been all spring. My guess is because he could talk about pitching.
After he headed home, Strasburg still wanted to talk about pitching. Cell phone to his ear, he reflected about what he could have done better, even thought it was mother on the phone.
"I hate to use the word critical," Kathy Swett said. "He's just very serious about what he does."
Strasburg will rest three days, throw a bullpen, rest one more day and then pitch again, likely putting him on pace to pitch again March 15. Can't wait.
Just the first start had some wondering if Strasburg will be ready for the big leagues in April. Strasburg lived up to the hype. Yup, the Strasburg Era is underway. Strasburg was great, but the Tigers still won. Here's one more look at Strasburg.
March 10, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Stephen Strasburg
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