Stephen Strasburg appeared in studio last night on ESPN's Baseball Tonight (on ESPN2) to talk to hosts Karl Ravech and Buster Olney about his first three starts with Double-A Harrisburg and the Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick's impending MLB debut. The 21-year-old right-hander is in Connecticut this weekend, where the Senators will take on the New Britain Rock Cats in a three-game series. After throwing 5.0 scoreless in his last start earlier this week, in which Strasburg threw 67 pitches, 48 for strikes and gave up 1 H, 1 BB and 0 ER while recording 6 K's, the future Nats' ace has now thrown 12.1 IP over which he's allowed 7 H and 1 ER while allowing 3 BB (2.19 BB/9) and collecting 17 K's (12.41 K/9). Here's what he had to say about the first few professional starts of his career:
• Last start vs Reading Phillies?
Stephen Strasburg: "You know, I'm definitely getting more comfortable out there. Obviously the first outing there's a lot of adrenaline going. I'm starting to learn to harness it, and I'm just going out there and trying to throw the ball down in the zone."
• Pitching In Harrisburg vs College?
Stephen Strasburg: "Definitely pitching just like I did in college. The game is pretty much the same as it was and it'll always be the same out there, you know, obviously you're facing better competition up here, and obviously there's a lot more fans in the stands too."
• Media Scrutiny?
Stephen Strasburg: "I think about two years ago Tony Gwynn told me, 'Would you rather be batting .250 and nobody talking to you, or batting .350 and having everybody talking to you.' So when you really think about it you want to be successful out there, so it's just something that's part of the game, you have to talk to the media and they're gonna want to talk to you."
• Mechanics? The Dreaded "Inverted W"?
Stephen Strasburg: "I really don't know what an "Inverted W" is, I know there's a lot of pitchers in history who don't have the perfect mechanics and end up pitching 20+ years...(Strasburg's shown the inverted W)...Well, you know, that's the way I've been throwing my whole life, I haven't had an injuries, so I'm just gonna keep working hard, trying to stick to my plan in between, and prepare for the next start..."
• The Most Challenging Adjustment To Pro Ball?
Stephen Strasburg: "I think definitely, just getting used to pitching every 5 days. It's a little bit different program that you have to follow, not as much throwing in between...I really like it though, you know, it's nice if you have a bad outing or don't do what you wanted to do, you got four days of rest and you're out doing it again."
• Do You Look At The Radar Gun When You're Throwing?
Stephen Strasburg: "When I first stepped into college, I was definitely a guy that would kind look over my shoulder. Not so much now. You look at the guys in the league, just like Jamie Moyer right there, throwing 80 mph and he's getting guys out, so velocity isn't everything..."
• When Will You Make Your MLB Debut?
Stephen Strasburg: "Definitely just waiting for the call. They gave me some things to work on and that's what I'm going to stick with right now. I'm enjoying every second of it down there in Harrisburg, you know, we got a great team, great coaches and I'm just trying to learn from everything."
• Month To Month Rent Or A Year?
Stephen Strasburg: "Definitely going month to month."
• Pitch Selection?
Stephen Strasburg: "I got a standard four-seam fastball...I throw like, kinda like a slider/curveball hybrid...take a little bit off it comes more out like a curve ball, definitely try and overpower it down in the zone more like a slider...then I got a two-seam changeup...like to throw that down in the zone, then I got a sinker that I like to mix in there too, it's kinda more like a one-seamer."
• Off Fastball, Best Secondary Pitch?
Stephen Strasburg: "I think, definitely closing my freshman year I said hey, you know, I was a fastball and then this breaking ball here, so, that's my pitch, I'm really confident throwing that any time in the count, my changeup's been really good ever since I was playing with pro balls with these smaller seams you know it's just gotten a lot better, and then I've definitely been throwing my sinker a lot too, you know that's kind of an easy ground ball out right there."
• Nationals Want You To Slow Delivery Down, Why?
Stephen Strasburg: "You know, in college I was almost just a straight slide-step every time, I didn't really lose velo(city), all my stuff was still there, and virtually eliminated the running game, but I was right around a second with that, they want me to be more around a one-three (seconds), so they have me starting out with more of a load on my back side...you know kinda loading right here (leans back) and getting going and it helps me keep the angle on my fastball a lot better...
"Part of the game, you really have to vary your times and everything, that's something that they also want me to work on, you know really controlling the running game...
"I think it's really more important now cause you got guys with you know lightning-speed out there, and guys on the basepaths are a lot smarter too, you know, they're going to pick up little things and be off running on the next pitch, so you know, it's really important to kind of help your catcher out by being quick to the plate and giving him a chance to throw out some guys."
• Friends On The Nats?
Stephen Strasburg: "Uh, you know, definitely, John Lannan, Garrett Mock, just a bunch of the pitchers up there, they were great, they really made my Spring Training experience a blast, and I learned a lot from them and you know especially the guys out here, you got Randy Tomlin and Randy Knorr as the coaches here in Harrisburg, you know, they've been great too."
• So you Can Throw Even Harder With The New Delivery?
Stephen Strasburg: "You know, I think the velo(city)'s pretty much the same, you know, there's really no difference from the windup to the stretch, but you know I'm able to keep that angle (on his fastball) and stay in the bottom half of the zone."