Friday, March 6, 2009

Strasburg React: The Day After

There are just a couple of things I think you should know about Strasburg so far beyond what you've read in news accounts or heard about his radar gun readings.  The numbers themselves are sick: 3-0, 1.77 ERA, 20.1 IP, 13 hits, 4 walks, 45 strikeouts.  45 freaking strikeouts!  The way he mowes through hitters at the college level, it almost makes these near-20 K games seem routine.  And everyone has heard about the fastballs hitting 99-102 MPH.  Here's what you're not hearing:

  1. His slider is his best pitch by far.  And yes, I'm saying the slider is better than his 100-MPH fastball.  Watch Strasburg pitch.  He misses bats with the slider.  The fastball doesn't get all that many swings and misses.  His fastball got turned around for a homerun by a .111 hitter yesterday.  His slider let him strike out the side in the 6th, 7th, and 8th.  And Strasburg probably throws the slider 35-40% of the time.  I haven't seen him rely yet on his fastball to get him out of a scrape.
  2. It's not the stuff, it's the command.  The 45 K's are ridiculous, but the four walks really stand out as a testament to Strasburg's ability to command the strike zone.  When Stephen's command starts to escape him and he falls behind 2-0, he's almost hittable, but it rarely happens.  A repeatable delivery and smooth, flowing mechanics allow Strass to get into that zone where he's whiffing 7 or 8 in a row.  
  3. In yesterday's game, Strasburg's 50th pitch came to end the 3rd inning.  Uh oh, we thought up in the broadcast booth, the pitch count's gonna get him again, and Strasburg won't be able to finish 7.  In the next five innings, Strasburg struck out 13 USD Toreros, and threw only 63 pitches to do it.  Now THAT'S impressive.

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