When you write about Washington prospect Stephen Strasburg(notes), you're supposed to focus on his triple-digit fastball. But check out the highlights from his pro debut and tell me you're not impressed with the curve, too.
On Sunday, making his first start for Harrisburg, Strasburg demonstrated yet again why he's the most thoroughly hyped young pitcher in baseball. He picked up a five-inning win against Altoona, Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Strasburg struck out eight batters in front of an overflow crowd of 7,877 (which probably thinned a bit after he was finished), allowing four hits, two walks, one earned run and three unearned runs.
He was not necessarily at his best, although he still reached 100 mph and his fastball was routinely clocked at 97-98 mph. Strasburg was shaky in the first inning, as he gave up a double, single and walk to Altoona's 3-4-5 hitters. He quickly settled down, however, and retired the next eight batters, five of them on Ks. Again, just to be clear: the curve was vicious. Strasburg failed to pitch around a pair of errors in the fourth, resulting in the unearned runs.
Still, it was a promising turn for the 21-year-old, just as everyone expected. The in-stadium media presence was unlike anything the locals are likely to see again. Details here via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
[Altoona] received nearly 60 media credential requests from 30 different outlets, and Strasburg's photo graced the specially-made media passes even though he's an opposing player. Two auxiliary press boxes were set up, and reporters were advised to have their laptop computers fully charged upon arrival due to a potential shortage of electrical outlets. ESPN News cut to broadcast each half-inning that Strasburg was pitching, which is believed to be the first-ever live national airing of a sporting event in Altoona.
You really have to love the "shortage of electrical outlets." Because of course a Pirates farm club would be too cheap to provide power strips.
Harrisburg catcher Jhonatan Solano called Strasburg "unbelievable," adding that he thinks "in a couple (more starts), he goes to the big leagues." But Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan offered a more reasonable timetable earlier in the day, one that accounts for the fact that baseball economics are insane.
If Strasburg makes his Nats debut in the June 4-6 series against the Reds and opposes Aroldis Chapman(notes), then we're declaring a holiday. (Not an official holiday where you don't have to go to work, but more like one of those situations where a carpet store has a really special sale). That game would demand a liveblog, with pre-blog festivities. Please stay tuned for additional details.
Photo via AP Images