Stephen Strasburg returned to the majors on Tuesday and threw five innings (only 56 pitches) against the Dodgers. He allowed two hits, walked no one, and struck out four. You could say that he was “pitching to contact” more (considering he struck out over 12 per nine innings last year), which was the report we got earlier in the year. However, the report was that he was going to move to his two-seam fastball over his four-seam fastball did not pan out in this start:
He threw more fastballs Tuesday than he did last year, but still, there were more than twice as many four-seamers as two-seamers, resulting in a rather airy 4:6 groundout to flyout (including one infield pop) ratio.
Now, for what many were probably looking for: Strasburg’s velocity. Coming back from Tommy John surgery is commonplace these days, but it’s still a serious surgery. Here we go:
He looks to be down about one mph, but remember that these velocity numbers are not adjusted for weather conditions (it was rainy and in the 60s on Tuesday; colder temperatures have an inverse relationship with velocity). I wouldn’t be concerned about the velocity drop yet; we’ll have to see a few more starts from him before we make judgments. And let’s remember, throwing “only” 96 mph in the rotation isn’t really so bad.
It’s notable that Strasburg’s velocity took a little bit of a hit after a long offensive inning during which he had to run the bases. His last fastball of the second inning was 97.5 mph, and his first fastball of the third inning was 93.2. Presumably the delay caused part of his overall velocity decline.