Stephen Strasburg made his debut Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

His line: 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 14 K

Unreal. His lone blemish was a changeup to Delywn Young that caught a little too much of the plate, allowing Young to yank it into the right field stands. For most of the game, however, Strasburg toyed with the Pirates’ hitters, blowing 98 mile an hour fastballs by them, dropping unhittable curveballs, and occasionally resorting to his 90+ MPH change.

Watching Strasburg’s performance, I couldn’t help but think that he has the most dominating stuff I have seen since, I don’t know, Pedro Martinez. Sure, I’m probably caught up in the hype. There are plenty of great pitchers in the game today, and one start against the Pirates doesn’t make you the best in the game.

The highest drama came after the 6th, when Strasburg was at 80 pitches and the Nats, behind home runs by Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham, took a two run lead. There was much speculation from the broadcast booth that the Nationals phenom would be taken out. However, not only did Strasburg come up for the seventh, he struck out the side and left to an electric ovation.

You knew it was coming – let’s take a look at some PITCHf/x data on his debut.

Strasburg, pitch speed chart

That is simply Strasburg’s pitches, in order, accompanied by MPH. He did not lose much on the fastball as the game went on. Here’s his movement chart (from the catcher’s perspective):

Strasburg movement

Horizontal movement is on the X-axis and vertical movement is on the Y-axis, and the data points are color coded by pitch type. You can see that his pitches cluster into three pretty distinct groups; the fastball in the upper left, the change up just below it, and the curve in the lower right.

I think if we studied his pitches more closely, we’d find two fastballs and perhaps a variation of the curve (a true, knee buckling curve and more of a sharp breaking slider/curve). For now, though, the chart gives us a good indication of his pitch movement.

Using the data from Brooks Baseball, here’s his pitched usage breakdown (with average and max speed):

Pitch Type # of Pitches Average Speed Max Speed
Fastball 60 97.5 100
Curve 25 82.2 83.8
Change 9 90.2 91.6

According to PITCHf/x, Strasburg hit 100.1 and 99.9, both in the second inning. He hit 99 or faster five times and at least 98 a remarkable 28 times. It is completely accurate to say this guys *sits* in the upper-90s. At least he did on Tuesday night. I can’t wait until the next time he takes the mound.

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