Stephen Strasburg is pitching this morning in Harrisburg against the Reading Phillies. For those of you who can't follow it, I'll provide some updates here:
First inning: Strasburg gets through the first in three batters in order. He got two groundouts and a foul out, throwing 10 pitches (seven for strikes) and hitting 98 mph on the radar gun. He's made a habit of working quick so far in the Eastern League, and he got hitters swinging early in the first. Danny Espinosa and Jesus Valdez have hits in the bottom of the first in Harrisburg. Team president Stan Kasten, GM Mike Rizzo and player development director Doug Harris were all planning to watch Strasburg this morning.
Second inning: Strasburg starts Brandon Stavisky with a slider and a changeup, striking him out on a 97-mph fastball at the end of a six-pitch at-bat. He strikes out Kevin Mahar on three pitches, getting ahead with two fastballs and making Mahar chase a slider. He gets behind Brandon Pinckney 2-0, but gets a pop-up to short on a fastball. Twelve pitches by my count in that inning. Strasburg struck out a hitter who was catching up to a couple fastballs, got one to chase a slider and used another fastball for an out when he fell behind 2-0. Three different situations, and you see him manage all of them without any problems. He's thrown 22 pitches, 17 strikes, through two.
Third inning: Strasburg strikes out Tuffy Gosewisch on three pitches (how's that for a name!). Keoni De Renne singles to left off Strasburg, the first batter to get a hit off him. Reading pitcher Yohan Flande bunts one foul for a strikeout. Strasburg's fastball has topped out at 98 mph this morning, sitting around 97 mph consistently. Mike Spidale reaches on an error from Adam Fox at the end of a long at-bat. The Phillies have two runners on here in the third. But Strasburg gets a forceout at second to end the inning.
Fourth inning: Strasburg has five strikeouts now after striking out Tagg Bozeid to start the inning (what's up with these names?). He walked Stavisky, but then gets a double play to end the inning. He's supposed to throw 85 pitches today, but there's almost no way he gets that in five innings here. He's thrown just 51 pitches, 38 for strikes.
Fifth inning: The inning starts with a Stavisky groundout to third, and Strasburg gets Gosewisch looking for the second time on a 98-mph fastball. He finishes the inning with a De Renne flyout to center.
Final thoughts: Strasburg is done for the day, having allowed one hit in five shutout innings while striking out six and walking one. He consistently threw strikes (48 in 67 pitches), showed he could still get outs when he was behind in the count and had no qualms about working quickly even when he had the stuff to overpower hitters. You've got to wonder how long he'll be at Harrisburg. Listening to the game today, it sure seemed like he could do whatever he wanted. The Nationals are intentionally taking it slow with him, though -- they want him to work on a few more details relative to fielding his position. He's also in good hands there with Randy Knorr and Randy Tomlin, the manager and pitching coach who've created strong opinions throughout the organization for the way they developed pitchers like Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler at Class A Potomac. It'll be interesting to see what happens from here -- you'd almost like to see Strasburg have to pitch out of a few more jams, though he had one today.
I'll have more from Nationals Park this afternoon.