Earlier today, Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg pitched in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery about a year ago. He pitched OK, and I was lucky and happy to be in Hagerstown, MD to experience it.
The Hagerstown Suns are a low-A affiliate of the Nationals, and it’s where the Nats’ 2010 first round draft pick, Bryce Harper, started his professional career earlier this year. And with the Potomac and Harrisburg affiliate teams not currently playing at home, Hagerstown seemed like the best place for Strasburg to get his first start in a year, with today’s game being played against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
While other bloggers from other websites have said that Strasburg was “dominant,” I will say that he was fine but showed a little bit of rust. With over 6,000 fans watching in a sold-out Municipal Stadium, Strasburg pitched 1 2/3 innings, throwing 31 pitches (16 of them for strikes). In the first inning Strasburg struck out the first two batters (second baseman Noah Therriot and right fielder Marcel Osuna both struck out swinging) and then allowed a single to right field off the bat of left fielder Christian Yellis. The next batter, first baseman Mark Tanhoff, ended the inning thanks to a diving stop by Suns’ first baseman Brad Newsome (he played a mean first base today; hopefully we will see him in the Majors someday!).
In the second inning, Strasburg struck out the first batter but then allowed catcher Jacob Realmuto to hit a home run to right center (about 340 feet). The homer was followed by a single from shortstop Daniel Platt and a strikeout by third baseman Ryan Fisher. That’s when Strasburg reached 31 pitches and was removed from the game to a standing ovation from the fans.
Because Municipal Stadium is so old and their scoreboard resembles a Little League one, there was no indication on the scoreboard of how fast Strasburg was pitching. So I can’t really tell you exactly how fast he pitched, other than I thought it was pretty fast (I know; that’s not helpful!). While he did strike out four of the eight batters he faced, the opposing hitters did make a lot of contact, fouling off one third of Strasburg’s pitches. So I wouldn’t go as far as saying he was “dominant,” but it was a strong outing for a guy whose only pitching this past year had been in simulated games.
Strasburg pitched pretty much the way I expected him to – he was poised, showed no signs of being nervous, and had a good fastball. He is supposed to make a few more rehab starts in the minors before probably replacing Jordan Zimmermann in the lineup, since Zim will soon reach his 160-inning limit for the season. Do keep in mind though, that since Zimmermann is coming off Tommy John surgery as well, Strasburg will more than likely have his innings numbered next year too, regardless of how well he pitches.
Overall, it was fun to be at the ballpark today. The view from our seats was lousy (they don’t mention the partially-obstructed view when buying your tickets), they ran out of nacho chips, and we had to park in the next town, but hey, it was the minors. And where else can I say I saw Stephen Strasburg for only $11 a seat? I hope you enjoy all the pictures in this blog, which I took today with my little digital camera, and I hope Stephen Strasburg continues to improve during the rest of this season. Best of luck to #37!
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.