box) Two things struck me as I watched the debut of Washington ..."/> box) Two things struck me as I watched the debut of Washington ..."/> box) Two things struck me as I watched the debut of Washington ..."/>

Strasburg Impresses, So Does Porcello

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Detroit 9, Washington 4 (box)

Two things struck me as I watched the debut of Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg today. First, this kid just looks like he belongs. There wasn’t any doubts about his stuff, and he showed why, but I was most impressed with his mound presence. He just seems like he should be on the mound.

Mound presence is difficult to define, sort of like pornography I guess. I’ll put it this way; you know how Zach Miner carries himself when he’s pitching? How he nibbles at the corners and looks like there’s about a thousand places he’d rather be? Strasburg is the opposite of that. He is good enough and he knows he is. Miner and some other guys just hope they are good enough.

Of course, all this means nothing if your stuff doesn’t play in the big leagues. No worries there for Strasburg, either. He featured a sinking fastball that sat in the mid to high 90s to go along with a solid breaking ball. The 3-2 slider he froze Brent Dlugach with in the second just wasn’t fair. Strasburg seemed to battle nerves early, falling behind 2-0 on each of the first two hitters. But each time, he gave them the fastball they were sitting on and watched those hitters pound the ball into the dirt, each grounding out. His stuff will definitely play in the show.

What did Miguel Cabrera think about Strasburg, who fanned him in the second? Jayson Stark tweeted this gem from Miggy: “When he throws the ball, it’s like an explosion.”

The other thing I noticed was the lack of talk about Tigers starter Rick Porcello. I understand that the MLB Network feed was from MASN, the Nats’ TV network, so I didn’t expect to hear much about Porcello during the game, but the national media never even mentioned Porcello’s very strong outing. I guess it’s easy to forget that he’s still only 21 years old. Porcello has been tremendous in each of his first two outings so far and he’s five months younger than Strasburg. How about a little love for our boy here?

As for the game itself, once Strasburg left the contest, the Tigers jumped all over the Nats. Detroit plated two in the fourth off former Mariner Miguel Batista, then added three more on Magglio Ordonez’s homer in the fifth.

The Tigers got very good pitching for really the first time all Spring, at least for the first seven innings. After watching the starter fail to survive the first in each of the last two games, Porcello’s effort set the tone which was quickly followed by a perfect inning by Ryan Perry. Jose Valverde worked a scoreless frame and Eddie Bonine was very good for the first two of his innings, though he ran into trouble in the eighth.

Cheers For

  • Don Kelly– Once again, Kelly continues to mash the baseball. He collected the first hit of the day, a single versus Strasburg, then added two doubles later.
  • Austin Jackson– Jackson crushed a long solo homer to dead center field in the sixth inning, one than even had the Nats’ announcers wowed. He also added a double, the first two extra base hits of the Spring.
  • Porcello– His line: 3IP 2H 0BB 1K, now has five scoreless innings this Spring.
  • Strasburg– His line: 2IP 2H 0BB 2K. If you are the Nationals, the only way this kids starts the year in the minors is if you are trying to delay his free agency by a year, otherwise let him pitch and work through the growing pains.

Jeers To

  • Alfredo Figaro– Figaro made his first appearance and it wasn’t good. He came into a tough situation, but a wild pitch allowed the first inherited runner to score. Figaro then fell behind several batters and gave up two big hits, a two-run double and a run-scoring single. The first three of the four runs the Nats tagged him for were charged to Bonine.

What’s on tap

The Yankees come to Lakeland tomorrow and they’re bringing Curtis Granderson with them. Expect all sorts of ESPN coverage since it’s a Yankees game, I’m sure we’ll get smothered in Johnny Damon stories. No word as to whether or not Marcus Thames will also be making the trip from Tampa. In other news, the Tigers got some pretty good news about LHP Dontrelle Willis when he played catch today and reported no discomfort. The biggest test for Willis will come when he makes the start against the Yankees on Saturday.