All systems are go for Strasburg
VIERA, FLA. | Stephen Strasburg’s delivery was flawless. Arms crossed in front of his locker, the 23-year-old right-hander didn’t let a smile sneak onto his face as the words left his mouth.
“I was just maxing out at 88,” Strasburg said after pitching two innings in the Washington Nationals’ 10-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Houston Astros on Sunday. “So that’s about right.”
The joke hung in the air. Laughter followed a few seconds later.
Strasburg is known for his fastball that averaged 95.8 mph in five September starts last season, not his one-liners with reporters.
But Strasburg’s manner after his 44-pitch outing at Space Coast Stadium was as easy as his arm action. Five hundred forty-eight days after Tommy John ligament replacement surgery repaired his right elbow, Strasburg’s arm feels significantly better than last spring training.
Better means a stronger arm, one that didn’t tire between innings. One that felt as if it was just getting warmed up when manager Davey Johnson pulled Strasburg after 22/ innings of threehit, two-run baseball, one pitch away from his limit of 45.
“It was pretty much a breeze,” Strasburg said. “It was very easy to throw out there.”
That didn’t mean Strasburg avoided trouble.