After last night's Nats game, I went home and watched Stephen Strasburg's first start for Triple-A Syracuse, his sixth so far this season between Double and Triple A.

There were some things that really stood out to me, and I'm glad I DVR'd the appearance so I could go back and take a real good look at a couple of things.
  • He threw mostly fastball/slurve last night.  According to Baseball America, he threw 46 fastballs, 13 "curveballs" and six change-ups.  45 of his 65 pitches were for strikes.
  • He threw the slurve at variable speed, which is a tremendously difficult thing to do, with the speed ranging from 86-76.  He's able to throw it harder and tighter like a slider, or throw it with a bigger bend like a curve.  He used it as his "out" pitch on several occasions, including the called third strike to the final batter, who just froze and watched it bend over the plate.
  • He didn't miss his spots.  He might have had three pitches get away from him a little bit.  Other than that, he hit the catcher's mitt just about every time.
  • His fastball sat 96 MPH and hit 99 a couple times.  He kept it down in the zone and on the few occasions it got away from him, it was down and in to right-handed batters.
  • He struck out six, got 12 ground ball outs and zero fly balls.  That's right, against Triple-A competition, he did not give up a single fly ball, including foul balls.
  • Oh, he gave up just one hit, a bouncing grounder up the middle and gave out one walk.
  • Most of the contact that was made were weak ground balls to his infielders.  His opponent had a very difficult time squaring up to any of his offerings.
  • And for good measure, he drove in two runs with a single and sacrifice bunt on a safety squeeze.  He's 3-for-8 with four RBIs this season between AAA-AA.
  • The victory improved Strasburg's record to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.29 in six starts across two minor league levels. He has struck out 33 while walking only seven.
  • Not to be forgotten, Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the 7-0 victory.
  • Syracuse had a standing-room-only sellout of 13,766, the biggest crowd in Syracuse history.
The legend of Stephen Strasburg only grew with last night's performance.  While fans in D.C. anxiously await Strasburg the player's arrival in the major leagues, Strasburg as phenom is living up to all previous billing and expecations.

It's fun to be a Nats fan right now.  A collection of veterans, sprinkled with pieces of the future, are playing competitive ball on South Capitol Street.  There are more big league pitchers to add to the mix as they recover from injury, including a former all-star and a two-time 19-game winner. 

And now, at the highest minor league level, the biggest piece of the puzzle is close enough to really think about.  As the magical date approaches for Strasburg's ascension, there's no reason Nats fans can't daydream a little and think, "What if..."