Lots of promising young guys make their major league debut every year, but there aren’t many like Stephen Strasburg’s, both in anticipation and in actual payoff. It was a year ago tonight that Strasburg made his, and I’m still in awe over it.
He struck out 14 Pirates batters without issuing a walk. His last pitch of the night — his 94th — was clocked at 98 MPH. He hit 99 MPH multiple times. Between the movement of his fastball and that insane, multi-plane slider thing he threw, Pittsburgh never had a chance. With that heat, though, his changeup looked to be like a future killer, much the way Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum have made their bones off of their changeups despite having so much else going for them. Strasburg showed that night — and again, over the course of the handful of starts he got before his ligaments got the better of him — that he was the total package.
Strasburg’s rehab is reportedly going well. He may see some real action late this season and should, barring any setbacks, be ready for regular action to kick off next year. I don’t know what we’ll see. I hope we see something as close to the pre-surgery Strasburg as is medically possible, though I worry we won’t.
But even if we don’t, we’ll still have those few weeks of 2010 when some of the most electric stuff every unleashed by a rookie pitcher made its way into our living rooms.