Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Fastballs clocked at 100 mph in the seventh inning. Curveballs dropping faster than a sorority girls…let’s not go there. If you watched, you understand. Washington Nationals rookie savior Stephen Strasburg exuded extreme confidence and poise while taking the mound for his first major league start. Strasburg went light-years beyond expectations by striking out 14 batters while walking none in seven beautiful innings of work.
Do we crown him the best pitcher ever? Are we jumping the gun after one start? Is it Beginners' Luck?
What do we make of his lights-out debut?
His fastball broke the sound barrier, reached warp speed, and introduced us to the Intergalactic Federation of Planets, all while providing Strasburg with large sums of “space cash.”
His stuff was beyond electric. It was easily one of the top five pitching performances that I have ever seen. I’ve watched dominating pitching performances from the likes of Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera, but there was something that made Strasberg’s outing different.
It may have been that I didn’t expect him to adjust to the Major League level as quickly as he did. During his last start in Triple-A, Strasburg put up great stats, but consistently fell behind in counts, making the organization worried that his transition to the major league level could be rockier than expected. I completely bought into it, and looked for every possible negative argument.
Throw all those arguments into the Gulf with all the other garbage trying to plug the BP Oil Leak**. He walked zero batters. No need to clean off your glasses, you read it right, ZERO WALKS. He had everything in place and didn’t miss a step.
Let’s say he continues his domination throughout the second half of the season. The Nationals are currently only five games out of the division lead and with a bona fide ace on the mound every five days, their team can most definitely make their first run at their first NL East third place finish, and maybe even a Wild Card push.
Can you smell the Cy Young now? Maybe this half of me is thinking too highly of the young kid. But I doubted him once, and after he made me lick white dog poop, half of me refuses to doubt him again.
I will keep this short and simple. A pitcher took the mound for his first major league start at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, and 2 earned runs while throwing 65 strikes out of 110 pitches.
This was May 22, 2002 and that pitcher was Chicago Cubs rookie sensation Mark Prior in his first major league start. Prior dominated the National League until injuries derailed his promising career early.
Now relax, Strasburg fanatics, I am not making any comparison to him and Mark Prior. I simply want to state that pitching debuts can be bedazzling, but a pitcher’s career is defined by success combined with longevity. He very may well be the next reincarnation of Cy Young, but let’s keep an eye on him. In three years, I would be glad to have this conversation with you again.
Verdict: Even with the ridiculous debut, let’s agree that it is too early to judge Stephen Strasburg. That being said, I must say I am excited as hell to see what he pulls out of his sleeves in his next start
**(While I cracked joke about it, the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is damn serious. If you have been living under a rock, take some time to see what is really going on, it will shock you.)