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Posted by Andy on June 8, 2010

Wow...I can't remember the last time a debut was so hyped AND lived up to it. This is amazing stuff.

At the moment of this writing, Strasburg is through 6 and I assume done for the night. He has 11 K's. Here are all the first starts in our box scores where the pitcher got at least 11 K's:

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 1 J.R. Richard 1971-09-05 (2) HOU SFG W 5-3 CG 9 ,W 9.0 7 3 2 3 15 0 75
2 1 Karl Spooner 1954-09-22 BRO NYG W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 3 15 0 143 89 93
3 1 Cliff Melton 1937-04-25 NYG BSN L 1-3 9.0 6 3 2 2 13 0 76
4 1 Steve Woodard 1997-07-28 (1) MIL TOR W 1-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 0 0 1 12 0 119 76 91
5 1 Juan Marichal 1960-07-19 SFG PHI W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 1 12 0 96
6 1 Tim Hudson 1999-06-08 OAK SDP L 3-5 GS-5 5.0 7 3 3 4 11 1 98 56 48
7 1 Don Aase 1977-07-26 BOS MIL W 4-3 CG 9 ,W 9.0 9 3 2 2 11 0 68
8 1 Bob Shirley 1977-04-10 SDP CIN W 12-4 GS-9 ,W 8.2 4 4 0 4 11 0 75
9 1 Luis Tiant 1964-07-19 (2) CLE NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 4 11 0 86
10 1 Danny McDevitt 1957-06-17 BRO CIN W 7-2 CG 9 ,W 9.0 7 2 2 5 11 0 148 86 71
11 1 Dick Hall 1955-07-24 (1) PIT CHC W 12-5 9.0 9 5 5 1 11 1 59
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/8/2010.

This is some pretty good company, in terms of a high ratio of great pitchers based on just a single-game sample.

19 Responses to “Strasburg”

  1. Live Blog: Strasburg’s Major League debut against the Pirates « Caught Looking Says:

    [...] Baseball Reference is already on top of Strasburg’s 11 strikeouts. The most strikeouts in a debut was 15 strikeouts. Not bad, kid. But Strasburg’s night isn’t done yet as the Nationals bring him out to [...]

  2. Andy Says:

    Unbelievable. He just struck out the side in the 7th.

    I've got him with a game score of 75. Awesome.

  3. Djibouti Says:

    He struck out every single Pirate at least once. According to the Nats announcers, his 14 Ks are more than any Nats pitcher since they moved to Washington

  4. Zack Says:

    posting in epic game thread

  5. Frank Says:

    Now if he can just follow through. At this point, it looks like we have something pretty special!

  6. rico petrocelli Says:

    The phenom preparing to make his major league debut here had overwhelmed lower-level competition, throwing 75 consecutive scoreless innings while striking out 166 in 11 games.

    COMMENTS (0)
    More than a century ago, a ballyhooed rookie coming to pitch in the nation's capital was quite a thing, too.

    "No youngster that has broken into fast company in recent years is attracting as much attention as Walter Johnson ... the baseball world will watch his debut into fast company with a great deal of interest," the Washington Post reported in July 1907.

    Those words would apply equally today to Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who makes his major league debut Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates before a sold-out crowd.

    Johnson, then 19, amassed his dominating numbers in the semipro Idaho State League. Strasburg, now 21, has subdued minor league opponents, going 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 55 1-3 innings.

    Like Johnson before him, Strasburg joins a Washington baseball franchise seeking its first winning season. The old Washington Nationals -- aka the Senators -- had posted six consecutive losing seasons in the American League. The new version, which plays in the National League, has yet to play over .500 in five seasons since moving here from Montreal.

    Johnson's grandson, Henry W. Thomas, author of the biography, "Walter Johnson: Baseball's Big Train," plans to attend Strasburg's debut. He's watched Strasburg pitch in the minors on TV.

    "He looks like the real deal," said the 64-year-old Thomas. "I think he's going to be great, I really do."

    The old Nats didn't break in Johnson slowly. They threw him out against the Detroit Tigers, that season's eventual pennant winners, and their star player, Ty Cobb, considered by some the greatest player in major league history. While radar guns today chronicle Strasburg's 100 mph heat, Cobb provided a testimonial of Johnson's prowess.

    "I hardly saw the pitch, but I heard it," he wrote in his autobiography. "The thing just hissed with danger."

    "There was only one answer left to his incredible, overpowering speed," Cobb wrote. "We bunted. Sure enough, the boy hadn't handled many bunts."

    Cobb reached on one in the second inning, then raced to third on another bunt before scoring on a sacrifice fly, to put Johnson in an early 1-0 hole.

    Washington tied it in the sixth, but Detroit retook the lead in the eighth on a solo home run by Sam Crawford. Johnson was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the frame, and the teams traded runs in the ninth, giving the Tigers the one-run victory. The rookie had been impressive in the loss: eight innings, six hits, two runs, one walk and three strikeouts.

    "Scrambling all the way, we finally beat him, 3-2, but every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ballpark," Cobb recalled.

    Newspaper coverage of his performance sounded a lot like what people say today about Strasburg, with the Post gushing about Johnson's "wonderful speed, perfect control, and deceptive curve, not to speak of his spitball." OK, scratch the spitball, which has long been banned by baseball.

    Johnson, known as the "Big Train," continued to pitch without much run support that rookie season, going 5-9 despite a 1.88 ERA. In 1909, he actually lost 25 games despite a slim 2.22 ERA. But by end of his career two decades later, the Hall of Famer had won more games -- 417 -- than anyone besides Cy Young. He threw a record 110 shutouts, and even saved 34 out of the bullpen. And he set the all-time strikeout record of 3,508, later broken by Nolan Ryan.

  7. Zachary Says:

    What a debut. My jaw dropped when I saw that line while reading Posnanski's live blog at

  8. Tom Hufford Says:

    Wow, what a debut - shades of Bumpus Jones!

  9. Ken Rhodes Says:

    Strasburg certainly did not disappoint. Less terrific, though, were the Washington announcers who kept gushing over him like they had never seen a good young pitcher before. I found this particularly annoying, especially after the first ten times:

    "We've never seen a pitcher so good so young. And all the baseball men we've talked to say the same thing. There's never been a pitcher, at least in our lifetime, who pitched so well, with such great stuff and so much poise, at such a young age."

    Hmmm ... 24 Wins and 4 Losses, a league-leading 1.53 ERA, which computes to an ERA+ of 229, 16 complete games, including 8 shutouts, and the Cy Young Award ... that would be Dwight Gooden at 20, the age Stephen Strasburg was still mowing them down in college, in his SECOND major league season, having already won the ROY at 19.

    Please understand ... I'm not taking anything away from Strasburg. But I think we should get better from those guys who get paid to tell us stuff.

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    With the Gooden references here and in the other Strasburg thread, I should again point out his 50-start stretch from 8/11/84 to 5/6/86: 37-5, 1.40 ERA, 412 Ks, 90 BB in 404.2 IP.

  11. Nate Says:

    @Ken - The Nats guys are actually pretty good. However, most of last week was spent with Ray Knight (usually part of the pre- and post-game show) substituting for Dibble. You think the commentating team was bad tonight... Ray Knight is AWFUL. Just terrible.

    Anyway, watching tonight was a lot of fun for me as a Nationals fan (who went to games at RFK, not since draft time last year). That's all I really wanted from it, even if it ends up being Strasburg's best start this year (it had better not be the best of his career, though).

  12. Links of the Day: Special Strasmas Edition | Bus Leagues Baseball Says:

    [...] I had this chart up on Bus Leagues before it was lost to the dreaded “technical difficulties” (Baseball-Reference Blog) [...]

  13. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Watching tonight was a lot of fun, and the hype is reminiscent of how the Indians schilled Bob Feller back in the Thirties.

    And, Rico, I have also heard my share of Big Train stories...and Bob Feller stories...and Nolan Ryan stories. The one pitcher of whom I wish we had some stats is Satchel Paige -- the young Kansas City Monarch fireballer, not the savvy fossil that pitched for the Browns and Indians.

  14. Anon Says:

    Haven't seena ny mention of it but Pudge caught Strasburg today and also caught Ryan a tthe start of his career. That's 2 pitchers who will cover a 60+ year time gap before it';s all said and done

  15. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Anon, with that in mind, maybe we can get Strasburg to face off against Moyer sometime this season -- two pitchers that, if Strasburg keeps going like everyone believes he will, easily cover that "60-plus year gap", and then some.

  16. Sean S Says:

    I was wondering if 14 strikeouts was a record for a debut, just two people have beat that, and Strasburg almost certainly would have the record right now if he had not come up in the age of pitch counts. Though looking at Spooner's career, maybe we should be happy the Nats were counting pitches.

    Did a PI search to see who had the most strikeouts in a debut game that featured no walks. Strasburg blows away that record, the only other pitcher since 1920 to even strike out 10 with no walks was Johnny Cueto in 2008.

  17. Alec Rogers Says:


    Thanks for this post.

    I was at the game last night, and was very surprised when I saw Strasburg emerge from the dugout and enter the batter's circle in the bottom of the 5th. Turns out his best (8 Ks in 3 innings) was still ahead of him.

    Interesting that Henry Thomas was there (Walter Johnson's grandson and biographer). Very appropriate. Also, Ken Burns through out the first pitch, and did better than the last celebrity to do that at Nationals Park.

  18. Rob E Says:

    Unbelievable first game.
    But, I caution everyone out there, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, etc..
    The Nats already extended him further in his first game then they originally planned. They really need to resist the temptation to overwork this kid into an injury, or series of injuries, that could seriously impact his future, like the above 2 pitchers mentioned. I hope we're all not here 5 years from now making these comparisons..

  19. Stephen Strasburg: What A Debut Says:

    [...] the stats and pitches was that I was amazed at his efficiency. We already knew it was one of the best debuts in history, but he managed to do things no other pitcher had ever done. His 14 strikeouts over 7 innings came [...]