I had the pleasure of attending Stephen Strasburg's first start in the majors last night. It was a decision made totally on a whim: the Strasburg hype had gotten the best of me. As soon as the Nationals announced that on June 8th Stephen Strasburg would be making his major league debut, I hustled my way over to stubhub and purchased the cheapest three tickets without the slightest care of where I would actually be sitting.
Turns out, the seats that I purchased were for the second to last row in the stadium. But it didn't matter. From the time I sat down roughly thirty minutes before the game started, it was impossible to get up. Everyone in the crowd, myself included, was completely mesmerized by Stephen Strasburg closely following every move he made and every pitch he threw. And that was before the game.
Once the game started, it was easy to see what the hype was all about. Here was a twenty one year old kid consistently throwing between 97-99 MPH with a 89-91 MPH changeup and then to top it all off, a 81-83 MPH curveball-slider hybrid that routinely made hitters look silly throughout the game.
While Strasburg struggled to find the plate initially, the word that comes to mind when watching Strasburg pitch is control. When Strasburg is on, you know that he's in complete control. Hitters have no chance. That was evident in every inning but the fourth where Strasburg proved that he too was a human being and actually gave up a somewhat crowd deflating two run homerun. Aside from the fourth inning, Strasburg was in complete control the entire night harnessing his incredible array of power pitches that looked flat out unhittable from my seat in the second to last row.
Once Strasburg got into his groove and began locating more effectively, his control factor entered a different stratosphere. Strasburg began consistently getting ahead of hitters with his dominant stuff and it seemed like nearly every hitter from the fifth inning to the seventh inning had two strikes against him. Once Strasburg got two strikes on the hitter, Nationals Park went nuts. Everyone knew what to expect and what was coming next even if we had no idea what Strasburg was going to throw. Strike three.
It's incredible to see a rare talent perform at the highest level, but there is something different about watching a power pitcher do it. Not only was Stephen Strasburg's stuff off the charts, but his ability to control the game and completely dominate the opposing team's lineup was something that absolutely electrified the crowd. What makes Strasburg so exciting right now is that when he is on the mound, he is complete control out there. He makes the impossible look possible. Pitchers are not supposed to be throwing 99 MPH in their seventh inning of work. Pitchers are not supposed to be breaking the franchise record for strikeouts in a game after his first major league start.
But that's the beauty of Strasburg-he's not an ordinary pitcher. As I witnessed last night, he's an event.
DId you attend Strasburg's debut last night? Tell us your thoughts about Strasmus!