On this date, June 9, 2009, Stephen Strasburg was drafted to the Washington Nationals. He's had a lot of ups and downs throughout his career and some people question if he lived up to the hype. Let's take a look at Strasburg's baseball career and how he quietly lived up to all the hype.
In 2009 Stephen Strasburg was the top pitcher for his hometown San Diego State Aztecs. In his Junior season, Strasburg went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA. In his final start in college, he threw a no-hitter and struck out 17 Air Force Falcons. That Junior season made him the top prospect in the 2009 MLB Draft. He was more then just one of the top prospects, he was the most talked about player in the draft. Today he still stands as one of the most hyped players coming out of college.
In 2008, the Nationals were the worst team by record, earning them the top pick in the draft. Their pitching had struggled the year before and they needed a player to fill that "Ace" position. Who better to select than Stephen Strasburg?
Strasburg started his professional career in the Arizona Fall League in October. By the time the season started in April of 2010, Strasburg was a starting pitcher for the Nationals AA affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators. By May of that same season, Stras was promoted to AAA as a starter for the Syracuse Chiefs. He only spent 2 months in the minors because in June, the Washington Nationals called him up. Only a year after being drafted in 2009, Strasburg had made it to the Major Leagues.
On June 8, 2010, Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut and was up against the Pirates in DC. Strasburg struck out 14 Pirates and pitched 7 innings in the most hyped-up debut of all time.
In August of that same season, Stras opted to undergo Tommy John Surgery after tearing a ligament in his elbow. The recovery process would be tough and he would miss 12-18 months coming back from his injury.
His 2011 season included 4 rehab starts and no major league appearances. In 2012, he was an All-Star for the first time and was pitcher of the month in April. For the first time in franchise history, the Nationals made the playoffs in 2012 and were going to face the St. Louis Cardinals. One very key thing happened: the Nationals deciding not to pitch Strasburg because he already pitched his max amount of innings coming back from Tommy John. This decision would go on to haunt the Nationals as they lost to the Cardinals at home in game 5 of the NLDS.
Fast forward to the 2014 season, where Strasburg went from an above average pitcher to a rising star. In that season, Stra never went on the DL (now known as the IL), threw 215 innings and 242 strikeouts, which lead the entire National League. In 2015, injuries was the story; he only threw 127 1/3 innings and went on the DL multiple times.
During the off season leading up to the 2016 season, Stephen Strasburg was going to be a free agent after the season. The Nationals didn't want Stephen to hit free agency, so they gave him a 7 year, 175 million dollar extension to remain with the Nationals. What was most amazing about this deal, was there was an opt-out after either the 2019 or 2020 season if he wanted a new deal. He was the first ever Nats player to have an opt-out in a contract. Unfortunately, Strasburg had a few stints on the IL, but still appeared in 24 total games.
After decent seasons in 2017 and 2018, in which combined he went 25-11 and a 3.13 ERA, Stras became a superstar in the 2019 season. On July 3, 2019 against the Miami Marlins, Strasburg threw an immaculate inning: striking out the side and throwing 9 straight strikes.
Strasburg finished the regular season with an 18-6 record, a 3.32 ERA, and 251 strikeouts. Those 18 wins lead the entire National League and he finished 2nd in the N.L. in strikeouts.
Now, what you're about to see in the 2019 postseason from Stephen Strasburg is what proved to me that he really did live up to the hype.
The Nationals hosted the N.L. Wildcard game and Strasburg came out of the bullpen to deliver 3 scoreless innings to help the Nationals advance to the NLDS.
The LA Dodgers were the next team up for the Nats. Every time the Nationals were in this position, they found a way to lose. Not this time. In game 2, Stras allowed one run, struck out 10 and earned the win. The next appearance Strasburg made was in game 5; he got beat up, but he held his ground allowing 3 runs in 6 innings. Howie Kendrick hit the go-ahead Home Run to lift the Nats over the Dodgers and the Nats were NLCS bound.
The Nats, who were never down, swept the Cardinals in 4 games. The Nats pitching was un-hitable and Strasburg contributed. The Nationals were on to the World Series.
Leading up to the World Series, the Nationals were heavy underdogs against the Houston Astros. Strasburg's first appearance came in Game 2 where he started, pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball and earned the win with tons of run support. Stras appeared one final time in the World Series, in Game 6. This is another game that cemented his legacy. In that game, against one of the best offences in the league, Stras threw 8 1/3 innings, gave up 2 runs and earned another win. This appearance was an elimination game. Strasburg brought his best stuff and the Nationals won 7-2.
Strasburg did not appear in Game 7, but he was never needed. The Washington Nationals beat the Astros to clinch their 1st World Series title. Stras took home the MVP for his two amazing games. Remember that opt out he got back in 2016? Well, Strasburg opted out and sighed a new deal for 7 years worth 245 million dollars to remain a Washington National for life.
Stephen Strasburg has spent 10 years in the Majors. He is a World Series MVP, a World Series Champion, a 3x All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and a Strikeout Leader. He has had 2 mega deals (both were the most amount of money ever given to a pitcher at the time) and will remain a Washington National for life. For the huge hype he got coming out of San Diego State, Stephen Strasburg lived up to it all.