Would have posted this earlier tonight, but I’m just getting back to the hotel…
Anyway, just a quick update on Stephen Strasburg. I’m down in Fort Worth, Tex., watching him at the Mountain West Conference tournament. He came out of the game against New Mexico in the eighth inning with tightness in his lower back. Both Strasburg and head coach Tony Gwynn said the injury was nothing serious; the temperature was around 90 degrees today, and Strasburg said he just needed to stay hydrated. He stepped off the mound a couple times to stretch his back, at one point bending at the waist to stretch his entire trunk.
After walking Adam Courcha in the eighth inning, Strasburg stepped off the mound and conferred with San Diego State’s training staff. He got back on the mound, tried throwing one more pitch and was lifted for Addison Reed.
Other that that—wow. The first thing everyone at San Diego State has said to me is, “Have you seen him pitch yet?”, like it’s something you have to experience in person to believe. I see what they mean now. His four-seam fastball topped out around 99 mph today, and his slider-curve hybrid (“After you see it, you can call it whatever you want,” pitching coach Rusty Filter said) made the fastball look appetizing.
The pitch is between 78-81 mph, and has an 11-5 drop that makes it almost impossible for right-handers to hit. For lefties, Strasburg will occasionally flip his 85 mph changeup. He’s also got a two-seam fastball that’s in the low 90s with some sink, and he can locate all of it. And while he can pile up strikeouts in bunches, it never looks like he’s trying to. His stuff is so fluid, it’s hard to believe he’s throwing 99 until you see the radar gun. He only had six strikeouts today, but was getting plenty of ground ball outs, and had thrown just 83 pitches when he was lifted.
San Diego State won 2-1, barely hanging on after New Mexico loaded the bases on Reed with two outs in the ninth. Another win should put the Aztecs in the NCAA tournament—that would give them 40, and there’s plenty of talk here about how the idea of getting Strasburg on TV will be pretty appealing to the selection committee.
We’ll have a much larger story on Strasburg in the coming days—I’ll come back with a heads-up when it’s scheduled to run.