CLEVELAND - JUNE 13: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the game on June 13, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
When the Washington Nationals were visiting Colorado to play a four-game series with the Rockies in mid-May, (which saw Washington win the first game before dropping three-straight on strong pitching performances by Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Hammel and Jeff Francis), Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond spoke to several of the opposing team's players about how things would be different the next time they met. In an interview with Rob Dibble and Jim Memolo on Sirius/XM's MLB Network Radio's "First PItch", the Nationals' 24-year-old shortstop shared what he had said:
"I told [Troy] Tulowitzki and some of the other guys, 'OK, that's fine, you guys got Ubaldo or whatever, wait til we get [Stephen] Strasburg, you guys are gonna have a taste of your own medicine.' 98 with sink, I don't care how bad or how good you are that is nasty."
Asked about facing the Nationals' 21-year-old right-hander in his second start this past Sunday, Cleveland Indians' batter Russell Branyan, (who K'd twice, swinging in the second at a 2-2 curve that broke over ten inches from high and outside to low on the inside cormer when it crossed the plate, and then swinging through a high 96mph full-count fastball in the fourth), told SI.com's Albert Chen, in the feature article entitled, "National Treasure", that goes with this week's Strasburg SI cover, that, "'There's a reason why they made him the Number 1 pick. There's a reason why he's getting the attention. We [got] a glimpse of that today.'"
After Strasburg's start in Cleveland, MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote, in an article entitled, "Pudge, Umpire Impressed with Strasburg", that home plate umpire Brian O'Nora compared Strasburg to a young Randy Johnson and, "...told his fellow umpires...that Strasburg has more giddy-up on his fastball than any pitcher he has seen in the Majors this year."
So hitters, catchers and umpires are impressed, what about other pitchers? What better pitcher to ask than Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine, who appeared on the Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "Inside Pitch" with former DC GM Jim Bowden and Casey Stern Tuesday afternoon and had this to say when asked for his thoughts on the 21-year-old Nats' starter:
Tom Glavine: "I've only seen highlights, I haven't seen him pitch, but obviously the numbers are spectacular. He's certainly lived up to the billing, and you're always cautious of that or fearful of that any time you have a kid who's so highly touted. I always cringe as a players when I hear these kids come up and they're touted as this, that and the other thing, and they're compared to all the great players in the game and it's like, 'My god, these kids don't even have their feet on the ground yet and they're already having to live up to these expectations,' and look, baseball is a hard game to be successful at and when you pile on that kind of pressure it becomes even more difficult, but certainly so far he's handled it extremely well, he's pitched pretty well, and I think he's shown why everybody in the Nationals' organization has been so excited and so high on the kid. Everybody you hear talk about him has spit out every adjective you can think about to describe him, and you also hear an awful lot that people say they've never seen anything like it, well, based on the first two starts I think he's had so far, I don't think there's been too much that anybody's seen that's quite like that and you just hope that he can stay healthy and have a very long productive career."
I think that makes it pretty much universal...
• Further Reading:
"Will Strasburg continue striking out batters at a rate of 16.1 per nine innings? No, he won't. That's outlandish. But he appears to have several different, legitimate strikeout pitches, which is incredible in its own right."