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So, what are we to make of this Strasburg kid?

Jun 9, 2010, 8:20 AM EDT

Strasburg debut windup.jpgDrew had the live blog and the recap last night, perfectly capturing the “I can’t believe what I’m seeing” aspect of all of this. And it was spectacular. I’m still not sure I believed what I just saw. The Superman exists, and he’s a National.

Due to the injustice that is Major League Baseball’s blackout system — which seems to think that Columbus, Ohio is in the Pirates’ home territory despite the fact that the Pirates have never, ever broadcast a game here — I was stuck watching the game a couple of hours after it ended on MLB.tv’s archive. I was still impressed — hell, dumbfounded — despite knowing exactly what was coming. Plus I could fast forward when the Nats were batting, which was nice.

I had it in my head today to compare Strasburg’s debut to those of other power pitching studs like Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden and the like, but really there’s no point. Strasburg outshined them all. This morning we’re reaching for freaks of history like Karl Spooner and his 15 strikeout debut. Such a thing perfectly explains the singularity of Strasburg’s performance yet simultaneously fails to do it justice.

Indeed, most of the focus last night was on the fourteen strikeouts.  And they were amazing, in no small part because 12 of his victims went down swinging. But it was less his stat line than his stuff that had me groping for words.

The velocity was obviously incredible. The MASN gun had him topping 100 several times, and even if you assume that the TV gun reads a little hot, he was definitely bringing it.  He wasn’t losing it, either, what with his final strike of the game to Andy LaRoche registering at 98.  And the fact that his changeup — consistently in the low 90s — is faster than most guys’ fastballs is probably a crime against humanity.

But the movement was even more incredible. It’s no trick to throw hard if all you want to do is throw hard. We’ve seen Kyle Farnsworth light up a gun before, after all.  Strasburg’s stuff is not the same thing. It’s not even the same ballpark. Nick Steiner at The Hardball Times threw it up on a chart last night and the results are pretty astounding. The tail on his fastball(s) is otherworldly. The drop on his changeup — like, five inches — is the stuff of legend.

I probably need to stop now lest I use up my monthly supply of superlatives. The highlights are all over the place. Here are all 14 of his strikeouts.  Strap yourselves in people, because we’re taking off on one hell of a ride.

  1. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Jun 9, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Love the Watchmen reference, and this line is amazing:

    And the fact that his changeup — consistently in the low 90s — is faster than most guys’ fastballs is probably a crime against humanity.

  2. Jonny5 - Jun 9, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    I really can’t stand that Sean Connery wannabe colleague of yours Craig. Every single time I read an article of his I want to pee on his keyboard. Ok.”In other words,the kid did against Pittsburgh-which is very similar to a minor league team- What he did to college and minor league teams.That’s not as easy to do as he made it look.Yup, what an a-wipe. Anyway besides Strausberg being totally awesome in his first shot at the big stage, this is kinda bittersweet isn’t it Craig? A division rival with nothing to lose, and everything to gain just put another great pitcher in the lineup. I can see him taking on the best of any NL East team, and beating them. This division just got even tighter didn’t it?

  3. BC - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Enjoy watching him, until his arm falls off. This has Mark Fidrych / Mark Prior written all over it.
    And no, I don’t mean he’s going to get run over by a truck.

  4. excatcher - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    He reminded me of Dwight Gooden, although since I’m not as heavily invested in Strasburg memorabilia as I was Gooden baseball cards back when, he’ll probably stay out of trouble.
    MASN had him hitting 103, but here’s the PFX
    Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed
    FF (FourSeam Fastball) 97.52 100.1
    CH (Changeup) 90.16 91.6
    CU (Curveball) 82.18 83.8
    If he hadn’t been on the 90-ish pitch limit, he probably could have game scored much higher. The truly amazing thing about SS is he’s got control of all that movement.
    I would not want to be behind the plate with this guy, though.

  5. adam - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    The one problem Strasburg had last night was with his command. His pitches move so much that he was having trouble hitting Pudge in the glove.

    If you watch the game he was missing his spot fairly regularly, but he throws so hard and his pitches move so much that he can get away with it.

    I’m guessing a lot of it was nerves because of it being his first game, but if this kid starts hitting his spot all the time it’s over. O-V-E-R.

  6. Steve - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    14 Ks, 0 BBs…yeah that command was pretty awful.

  7. SouthofHeaven - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    You were misquoted, Craig. Your really said “God exists, and he’s a National”

  8. mick-7-1961 - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    To come into the bigs with the type of hype and pressure he had on his shoulders and to do what no one else before him has done (11+K’s and no walks in his debut) speaks volumes as to what the future holds for this phenom…the Nats, I’m sure are counting their blessings and the box office each time this amazing kid takes the mound.

  9. NICK GEERZ - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    WOW HE IS THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST LETS ALL BOW BEFORE HIM ….
    I CANT BELIEVE I DIDNT DRIVE TO D.C. TO WATCH THE GAME … I WISH THEY WOULD OF PLAYED THE GAME ON EVERY CHANNEL LIKE A PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE,OR ADDRESS … WHY DIDNT THEY, DONT THEY KNOW HE IS THE SAVIOR OF THE FREE WORLD …
    LETS NOT GET TO AHEAD OF OURSEVLES, GRANTED A GREAT PERFORMANCE HE HAS A WAYS TO GO
    BABBA BOOEY BABBA BOOEY

  10. adam - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    I didn’t say he was missing the zone. I said he was missing Pudge’s glove. Next time, learn to read and comprehend before you comment.

  11. AE - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    He seems legit. Maybe he’ll be a HOFer, or maybe a bust like Mike Celizic seems to want. That’s what makes it all so great.

  12. mick-7-1961 - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I have a better idea, Nick-don’t get ahead of yourself. Turn your computer off, get out of your parent’s basement and get to school…you still have a few days left.

  13. YANKEES1996 - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I watched the game and he is “IMPRESSIVE”. The pitching perfomance was very good even if the opponent was not. The kid has outstanding control and command.

  14. Ryan - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    This makes no sense. There’s absolutely no correlation between being hyped and a pitcher’s “arm falling off”. Just because Strasburg is heavily hyped doesn’t mean he’s going to fall of like Prior. Prior had two freak accidents on the field (a collision that messed up his shoulder and a line drive off the pitching elbow) that contributed to an array of other injuries following a poor rotation management job by Dusty Baker that saw Prior working high pitch counts almost every game.

  15. NICK GEERZ - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF SPEAKING LIKE AN ASSHOILE WITH A GREAT NAME LIKE THAT.. JUST BECAUSE YOU DROPPED OUT AND LIVE IN YOUR PARENTS BASEMENT DOESNT MEAN ALL OF US DID OR DO.. YOUR GIVING YANKEE FANS A BAD NAME

  16. InnocentBystander - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    I think we need a post about Strasburg the hitter so I can make fun of his running and stump for the DH in the NL.

  17. Steve - Jun 9, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    The one problem Strasburg had last night was with his command. His pitches move so much that he was having trouble hitting Pudge in the glove.
    That’s what you said. Obviously his command wasn’t a problem if his K/BB ratio was 14/0. Maybe you should read what you write before you post it.

  18. adam - Jun 9, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Is it really that hard to understand that someone can have problems with their command and still throw strikes?

  19. Riddles - Jun 9, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    You think you’ve got problems with Pirates blackouts? How about this–Durham NC is apparently Nats/Orioles country. Of course, you can’t even get MASN down here if you want to, so I won’t see Strasburg pitch live all year.

  20. Bobby - Jun 9, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    The best thing about this is the maturation of Washington as a sports town. The two biggest sports celebrities in the city are Ovechkin and Strasburg. Neither one is a Redskin! We are finally becoming a multi-dimensional sports town.

  21. dave - Jun 10, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Hope he’s not another David Clyde

  22. john - Jun 10, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Nationals and SS on Fox June 19th

  23. Ed - Jun 10, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    Man….you have issues.

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