Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals young pitcher and last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick who went on to sign a record US $15.1 million contract before stepping onto a major League Diamond, went beyond the hype by striking out 14 batters in his electric major league debut. Unfortunately that may have been the worse thing he could have done. You always want to make your first game memorable but that in itself comes with a lot of extra baggage.
With a standing-room-only crowd cheering every pitch, the Washington Nationals phenom put on a dazzling display of pitching power Tuesday night in a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. He was only touched up once on a 2 run home run but the rest of the time looked virtually untouchable. His fastballs topped 100 mph., and his nasty curves fell off the table and made opposing batters look silly standing in the box. What was equally as impressive was that he managed to do it in 94 pitches - just shy of the limit imposed by management before the game -- and 65 were strikes. He threw strikes and worked fast.
Usually when there is this much hype it doesn’t live up to it...not this time, the kid was SICK. That being said there is the fear that a) It was versus the Pirates sand that he still has yet to face a Major League Team and b) he may set the bar too high to soon. Every start from now on will be compared to this game...a tall order for a seasoned vet let alone a 21 year old fireballer. How does he respond when he gets roughed up in a start? There have been Phenoms before him that have looked good only to flame out (Mark Prior and Kerry Wood), lets hope that is not the case for this kid. Only time will tell if he has a Hall of Fame arm or is just a flash in the plan. In any event it was one of the most exciting regular season games, maybe ever. When each team plays 162 games a year it is rare that one has she sound and feel that there was in DC last night.