Stephen Strasburg, starting pitcher. A man barely alive.
“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic pitcher. Stephen Strasburg will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
Davey Johnson said Strasburg hit 95 today. And that was “a little tentative.”
As many have noted, of course, velocity is not the biggest trick when it comes to rebounding following Tommy John surgery. It’s touch and command. And what made Strasburg so special last year were all of those things. Yes, that heater was impressive, but more impressive was his ability to go from mid-to-high 90s and then break of the bender or throw that changeup of his for strikes. The changeup that was faster than many guys’ fastballs, yet still made hitters look foolish.
So this is obviously awesome, but know that even if Strasburg pitches late this season, we may not see him at his post-surgery best until next spring.
Baseball is a young man’s game. Whereas, a few short years ago, teams went into battle with a lot of guys with ten or twelve years of experience under their belt, these days such veterans are a dying breed. Whether you chalk it up to teams favoring youth because youth is less expensive, the game simply favoring younger, more athletic players, the decline in PED use among ballplayers or some combination of all three, the fact is that it’s better to be 23 in Major League Baseball these days than 33.
Turner is 33 — he turns 34 in November — yet he remains at or near the top of his game. It’s been a shorter season than usual for him due to an injury that cost him all of April and part of May, but his production when healthy remains at a near-MVP level. He’s hitting .318/.413/.525 on the year, and his return coincided with the Dodgers shaking off their early-season doldrums. Now, with his help, they are on the verge of yet another NL West title.
Not only that, but he’s doing that while holding down a second job!