The long-awaited spring training debut of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg finally took place today in a Grapefuit League contest between the Nationals and Detroit Tigers. Given the amount of hype Strasburg's first test of major league hitting was given by the baseball media, it would have been a colossal, yet not totally surprising to see Strasburg get rocked in his first few innings on the mound. However, 2009's first overall pick didn't fail to impress, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out 2 batters, including Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera.
If you had read any baseball-minded website (including the Nationals website itself) this afternoon and you may have thought that Strasburg had tossed a perfect game, struck out 20 batters, or tossed a complete game shutout. In reality, he tossed two innings in a meaningless context against a mix of major league hitters (Cabera and Carlos Guillen) and other guys who may be playing double AA ball come April.
I'm not trying to put down Strasburg's efforts, but Nats fans need to be cautiously optimistic about what we saw from Strasburg today in Viera. Yes, he was good. Yes, he looks like he very well might be the 'real deal.' But at the same time, it is a long exhibitition season and an even longer regular season. The time will come (likely before the All-Star break) when Strasburg will get a chance to prove himself in a game that matters against big league talent. And while that debut too will be hyped up beyond all belief, it will take time to measure Strasburg's true impact in DC.