Do NOT Curb Your Enthusiasm

Even Larry would be excited about Strasburg

Do NOT Curb Your Enthusiasm

I have to tell you, I did not expect to see what I saw last night. I heard that Stephen Strasburg was good. I had seen some video of his amateur work. I have read about his minor league work. I made fun of the build up that led to his debut. But I watched him pitched last night and I have seen the light. And I believe.

What impressed me was his composure. No wait; what impressed me was his ease of delivery. There is nothing herky-jerky, no misdirection, no over throwing. Just a smooth and easy motion that produces a four-seam fastball that rises, a two-seamer that sinks, both of which explode between 98 and 100 mph. He has a change-up, a change-up, A CHANGE-UP; that comes in a 90 mph and baffles batters. And finally, he’s got a curve ball that buckles knees. My knee ached watching it as it broke down and away from bats as if repelled by wood.

One of the pitches would have made him weapon. All four make him an arsenal. And he is fun to watch. Oh my, it is fun. Look I know it was only one game, but his pedigree indicates that it is not a fluke but a pattern.

The most significant moment for me was the Pirates top of the 4th when Neil Walker led off with a single and then Lastings Milledge followed with another single. It was here that I expected the rookie to crumble. Garrett Jones then hit a grounder double play. In his post-game interview, Strasburg explained that his goal is to pitch to contact and the strikeouts come by “accident.” Strasburg then made his only mistake when he left a 90 mph changeup within hitting range of Delwyn Young who put it into the first row in right field for a two-run homer.

I believe

So am I focusing on the negative? Au contraire, mon amis. Strasburg showed his mettle from that point on throwing 39 pitches, 30 for strikes striking out eight of the last nine batters including the last seven in a row. He didn’t get rattled. His stuff was better at the end than it was at the start. That is the mark of greatness.

He threw 94 pitches in seven innings and 61 were for strikes. He struck out 14 and walked no one. The last pitcher to strike out that many without a walk was Johan Santana on August 19, 2007 when pitching for the Twins, he allowed two hits in eight innings, striking out 17, while walking no one.

It’s only his debut. It was just one game but it was clearly no accident. It was an elite performance. He is better than we could have expected. If Stephen Strasburg stays healthy, he will be the best pitcher in baseball.

From all us who love the game:

Stay healthy, Stephen Strasburg.

Hype

Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

Baseball’s newest wunderkind went beyond the hype — and anyone’s reasonable expectations — with an electric and unprecedented major league debut Tuesday night in the Washington Nationals’ 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Joseph White, Associated Press

Strasburg didn’t fall short of the hype. If anything, the hype fell short of him. Fourteen strikeouts. Not a single walk. An electrifying performance, including an unforgettable final inning in which he struck out the side while all of Nationals Park roared with every pitch.

The Sports Network

Stephen Strasburg certainly lived up to the hype in one of the most anticipated debuts in recent memory, striking out an eye-popping 14 of the 24 Pirates he faced in Washington’s 5-2 victory

C. Trent Rosencrans, CBSSports.com

Although it seemed like nothing short of the season’s third* perfect game would be a disappointment, Stephen Strasburg seemingly lived up to the hype. The two runs by the Pirates may have proved he was human, but the rest of the night made it seem debatable.

Chris Jenkins, San Diego Union-Tribune

The hype’s been awful hard to believe, meaning, the amount of hype. The reality of Stephen Strasburg and the stuff that’s caused all the hype, however, is very believable to a major league player who’d already faced Strasburg years before the ex-San Diego State pitcher’s celebrated debut with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

“Yeah,” said Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, “Strassy’s that good. The real deal.”

Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com

In his Major League debut, Strasburg lived up to the unbelievable hype he carried in, giving up just two runs on four hits while walking none and striking out 14 — a Nationals record — and getting the win.

Los Angeles Times headline

Stephen Strasburg lives up to the hype in debut

Rookie from San Diego State strikes out 14 batters in seven innings, including the last seven he faces, and gets first victory for the lowly Nationals.

NY Daily News headline

Stephen Strasburg lives up to hype in big league debut and gives hope to Nationals and fan base

Not BP bad filthy

Filthy

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

Strasburg seemed to get stronger as he went along, obviously shaking off the early nerves. He threw his fastball 97-100, his changeup at 90-91, and his curveball was dropping over the plate at 82-83. We saw a slider that came in at about 95. This was filthy. Absolutely filthy.

Tom Robinson, The Virginian-Pilot

Here’s Strasburg’s final line: 7 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs (on a home run), ZERO walks and 14 strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches, 65 of which were strikes. Control is one of Strasburg’s hallmarks, along with hard, filthy stuff of course.

Johnette Howard, ESPN.com

He’s such a once-in-a-lifetime mix of pitching smarts and filthy stuff that even a wizened baseball lifer such as Nats minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams says he gets “chills” every time Strasburg’s first pitch cracks into the catcher’s mitt to start another game. Strasburg is already so good, Nats president Stan Kasten made a startling admission the other day: For once, Kasten said, barracuda super agent Scott Boras actually didn’t overinflate the talent of his client. Washington forked over Strasburg’s draft-record $15.1 million contract and hasn’t regretted it a day.

Mark McGuire, Albany TimesUnion.com

If you saw him in the minors, you already knew he had a 100 mph fastball and a curve that was even more filthy.

Aaron Morrissey, The DCist.com

The biggest sign of great things to come for Stephen Strasburg wasn’t the huge ovation he received from the 40,395 at Nationals Park last night after finally breaking 100 miles per hour on the radar gun — which he did several times. It wasn’t the dominating second inning, during which he struck out the side. Nor was it the multiple times he made Pittsburgh hitters look completely foolish on pitches that were so utterly filthy, yours truly felt the immediate desire to hit the confessional.

Dan Shanoff, The Sporting News.com

Hype is cheap — perhaps the cheapest currency in sports (next to punditry!)

But every once in a while — and its rarity is what makes it so special — hype isn’t just matched. It is exceeded.

And that is what happened last night in Washington, D.C., when Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 Pirates (with zero walks!) in 7 innings (on 94 pitches!), 65 for strikes and too many to count that fell somewhere in the “filthy/nasty/jaw-dropping” range.

That would be a career night for 99 percent of pitchers who have ever stepped on a Major League mound. Strasburg did it in his first-ever MLB game.

It is very hard to imagine what Strasburg can do to top this introduction. Strike out more than 14? Do it against a lineup a little bit more challenging than the Pirates? Do it in a playoff game?

Before last night, Strasburg wasn’t a phenomenon — he was hype.

Now he’s a phenomenon.

Also yesterday

AL

This is what happens when Tim Wakefield throws a knuckleball

Red Sox 3, Indians 2, Tim Wakefield sets a Red Sox record for career innings pitched with 2777 as he picks up his second win of the season.

Yankees 12, Orioles 7, Curtis Granderson hits a grand slam and Kevin Millwood drops to 0-7.

Rays 9, Blue Jays 0, Jeff Niemann is 6-0 after pitching his third career shutout. Carlos Pena hit a pair.

Tigers 7, White Sox 2, Armando Galarraga gets a ND; Brennan Boesch and Carlos Guillen go b-to-b in a six-run 7th.

Twins 7, Royals 3, Zack Greinke drops to 1-8 with a 4.05 ERA.

Rangers 7, Mariners 1, Vladimir Guerrero hit his team-high 13th homer chasing Felix Hernandez (3-5).

A’s 10, Angels 1, Angels six-game winning streak ends as Kurt Suzuki goes 4 for 5 with a homer and four RBI.

NL

Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0, Manny B Manny hit an 8th inning RBI double and LA moves into sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time this season.

Nationals 5, Pirates 2, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham all homer for the Nats.

Phillies 10, Marlins 8, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino homered as Phillies bats show signs of life. Mike Stanton makes his debut for the Marlins and goes 3-for-5 with two infield singles.

Astros 4, Rockies 3, I got nothing of interest here.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 5, Troy Glaus picked up his 45th RBI. Braves had 14 hits, seven walks and 14 LOB.

Giants 3, Reds 0, Matt Cain earns his second shutout of the season and has given up only one run in his last 34 innings

A great gift for any baseball fan

Walkoffs

Mets 2, Padres 1 (11)

Ike Davis led off the 11th with a walkoff homer as the Mets won their ninth straight game at home and their fourth straight overall. Mike Pelfrey pitched nine innings allowing one run and five hits for the Mets.

Brewers 3, Cubs 2

After giving up the lead with a run in the top of the 9th, Casey McGehee hit a two-run, two-out walkoff single off Carlos Marmol to give the Brewers a rare home victory. Milwaukee is now 9-16 at home.

On this date

Bobby Valentine in his disguise

In 1999, after being ejected in the 12th inning, Mets manager Bobby Valentine returns to the dugout with a fake mustache and glasses. The National League suspended Bobby V for two games and fine him for using the disguise. Meanwhile the Orioles are talking to Valentine about taking over as manager. Valentine should wear a disguise so that the Baltimorons can’t find him.

Today

AL

Yankees (C.C. Sabathia) at Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05

Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) at Indians (Justin Masterson), 7:05

Blue Jays (Shaun Marcum) at Rays (David Price), 7:10

Mariners (Ian Snell) at Rangers (C.J. Wilson), 8:05

Tigers (Rick Porcello) at White Sox (Freddy Garcia), 8:10

Royals (Kyle Davies) at Twins (Carl Pavano), 8:10

Angels (Joe Saunders) at A’s (Dallas Braden), 10:05

NL

Pirates (Brad Lincoln) at Nationals (John Lannan), 7:05

Marlins (Josh Johnson) at Phillies (Roy Halladay), 7:05

Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Reds (Aaron Harang), 7:10

Padres (Mat Latos) at Mets (Johan Santana), 7:10

Cubs (Carlos Zambrano) at Brewers (Randy Wolf), 8:10

Astros (Felipe Paulino) at Rockies (Aaron Cook), 8:40

Braves (Kenshin Kawakami) at Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy), 9:40

Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10