Thursday, February 26, 2009

Strasburg postgame react

It was a healthy crowd on a cold Thursday night but I want to see more than 1,027 in the house at Tony Gwynn Stadium for this type of talent.  Believe me when I tell you, there will be more than 30 Padres games at Petco Park where people will pay a whole lot more than $5-$7 to see pitchers far less entertaining than Stephen Strasburg.  Tonight, Strasburg dominated a Nevada team that had been launching HR's in their first four games, striking out 16 over 6 2/3's IP in a 5-2 win.  

Until fatigue set in during the 7th, Strasburg was on target and leaving the Wolfpack flailing at the wind.  It was his slider that really impressed tonight.  The fastball was 96-99 MPH based on the radar guns I could see in front of our broadcast booth, and a few of them had great movement.  But the slider was 78-83 and he was throwing two kinds.  The first really reminded me of John Smoltz in terms of the 12-to-6 break and the sharp, sudden nature of the drop.  The second was the sweeper I was more used to from last year.  Both were ridiculous and it was only his last one that he hung, hit for a double to center.  

I thought Stephen's command was much better tonight than in the opener against Bethune-Cookman.  It was rare for him to fall behind 2-0.  He only walked one against his 16 K's, and that was with two outs in the 7th.  His motion is so free and easy, it allows him to throw explosive fastballs without the max effort that could lead to obvious arm problems.  I also think it is very interesting to see how Tony Gwynn is protecting Strasburg so far, lifting him after 5 2/3's and 6 2/3's IP and keeping the pitch count around 100.  I like it but obviously it's not old-school college baseball.  

On offense tonight, two things stood out: Brandon Meredith got a confidence-builder and came alive, and Cory Vaughn showed that he can handle the middle of the order now.  Meredith hit a two-run single in the Aztecs' 3-run 3rd inning, but I think he got bailed out a little bit when a wild pitch brought home the game's first run, taking some of the pressure off his plate appearance.  He then hit a multi-hopper through the right side for two runs.  In his next at-bat Brandon ripped a fastball the other way to right for a double which set up two more runs.  You can see his confidence building.  

Vaughn is taking two-strike breaking balls, working the count without fear, and he stayed within himself and hit a two-strike double to right to plate Meredith, right down the line.  If Cory stays with this approach and doesn't start overswinging after he hits his first mammoth HR, he will hit over .300 this year and be an impact offensive player.  

Addison Reed got another save but his crossfire delivery scares me.  He throws way against his body and seems to short-arm the ball.  It's an injury waiting to happen and his control is below average.  I think he's funky and is hard for RH batters to pick up but needs to clean up his mechanics to be a big time prospect.  I like his potential though and for a college closer he's getting the job done.  Also it's encouraging that while he has allowed two baserunners in each of his two save opportunities, he has come back to shut the door in those innings without a run scoring.  

Overall a solid game for SDSU, and a 3-2 record results.  Now Pacific will be at TGS for a doubleheader on Saturday, and then Kansas State on Sunday.  Tyler Lavigne will get a chance on Saturday to back up his two-hit shutout of USD last weekend.  


  1. I would like to see Steven go longer into games with less pitches thrown. I saw in todays paper he through 102mph. Wow that is fast. The problem with the radar gun, it only measures one thing, speed. Wasn't it about 10 years ago, the Padres had a player by the name of Kroon who could throw over 100mph, but could not find the strike zone with the fastball.

    I don't want Steven to fall in love with over throwing the fastball and get caught up in striking everyone out. That kind of effort leads to Peavy style arm ailments and shortened careers. I would be more impressed if he could finish all nine innings and walk a way with a win.

  2. I'm not surprised. There was one fastball in particular where we couldn't see a gun but agreed it just had to be 100+. Still, some guns can be 3-4 MPH fast, so I don't put all that much stock in it. 97-99 consistently...NOT overthrowing, not overusing the fastball, is accurate to me.

    Strasburg is no Marc Kroon. Take a look at his command numbers for the past two seasons as a starter: 109.2 IP, 69H, 19BB, 160K. That's 1.55 BB/9IP. An 8.4-1 K/BB ratio. That's what makes him so impressive to me and all those scouts and GMs...his slider is as good a pitch for MLB as his fastball, maybe even better, and his heater is an easy 97-99, not an overthrown pitch. Good times.

    As for finishing games with less pitches, it will happen as he gets into the pros. That's where his 3rd and 4th pitches will get refined and he will get more flyouts and grounders by nature. In college his top two pitches are so unhittable, batters are just trying to stay alive up there. So, as a power pitcher, he's going to be inevitably prone to foul balls and pitch counts going up. Nolan Ryan was the same way...he just threw 140 pitches and completed the game. Strasburg is lucky to have coaches looking out for him and limiting his pitch count.