A deeper examination of Strasburg's debut
I'm back from Altoona, where I was fortunate enough to witness Stephen Strasburg's minor-league debut for the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday aftrernoon. By now, you know all about his five-inning, 82-pitch outing against the Altoona Curve (the Class AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates), as well as all the hoopla that went with it.
But there is still more to chew on, courtesy of the folks at the Inside Edge scouting service, who provided us with a detailed report on Strasburg's performance. Here are some interesting nuggets from Sunday's game (though keep in mind the tiny sample size makes it foolish to draw any major conclusions from them):
*Left-handed batters were twice as successful (3 for 12, .250) against Strasburg than right-handed batters (1 for 8, .125). In addition, he threw fewer strikes (32 strikes in 56 pitches, or 57 percent) against lefties than he did against righties (21 of 26, 81 percent).
*Against lefties, he threw mostly fastballs (46 out of 56 total pitches, or 82 percent), with an occasional breaking ball (six, or 11 percent) and changeup (four, or 7 percent). Against righties, meantime, he relied far less heavily on the fastball: only 14 out of 26 total pitches (54 percent), with a higher percentage of breaking balls (12, or 46 percent) and no changeups.
*All four of the hits he allowed came on fastballs, with three of the four coming on pitches near the middle of the stike zone -- in other words, mistakes. When he threw high fastballs out of the strike zone, the Curve's hitters couldn't resist: On 14 such pitches, he got nine swings, with only four put in play (all of them outs) and five swung on and missed.
*His average fastball velocity was 98, though it dropped to 96 from pitches 46 through 60 (which is when he was primarily pitching from the stretch position with runners on base in the fourth inning).
*On Inside Edge's "report card" for the outing, Strasburg rates only a C+ for "working ahead in count" (he threw only 50 percent first-pitch strikes, and only 50 percent strikes on 1-1 counts). But he got A+ for "finishing off batters" (92 percent of his two-strike at-bats became outs) and "dominance" (swing-and-miss percentage of 21 percent, and 25 percent of at-bats ending in strikeouts of four pitches or fewer). For "command," he warranted a grade of B, with a strike percentage of 65 percent on fastballs and 64 percent with his other pitches, both slightly above average. The overall grade for the outing: B+.
One other Strasburg note: His next two scheduled starts are both home games in Harrisburg -- Friday night against New Britain (7 p.m. first pitch), and April 21 against Reading (a rare 10:30 a.m. first pitch on getaway day before the Senators embark on a road trip).
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