Strasburg is fine. He's more than fine. We already had plenty of information to work with, leading to that conclusion.
For all the attention attached to his "comeback" this spring, Strasburg already came back from elbow surgery. He pitched 24 innings in the Major Leagues last September, and he was even more effective than he had been in 2010 before suffering the injury that cost him more than 12 months of big league time.
"He was in such a good rhythm at the end of the year," said Washington manager Davey Johnson. "All winter long he's been waiting for this, to be a normal person. He's an aggressive pitcher. He's got a lot of talent."
During that 2011 comeback, Strasburg was harder to hit than he had been in 2010. He didn't allow a single homer in five starts. His strikeout rate was down from an otherworldly 12 batters per nine innings to a merely dominating nine per nine, but his walk rate was positively microscopic. All during a period when simply feeling good would have been a victory.
It remains to be seen whether Strasburg will hold up over a full season, but then that applies to every pitcher to some degree. His effectiveness is not in much question, and in the short term neither is his health.
"I'm not really focused on [how I feel], but I definitely notice a difference, just from the time off in the offseason," he said. "My arm just felt a lot stronger. It didn't feel like it was getting tired as fast. It was pretty much a breeze. I kind of was a little erratic at times, but I know that's going to come with the repetitions and fine-tuning the mechanics.'
We tend to worry to extreme degrees when it comes to young pitchers and health. The flameouts of amazing talents like Mark Prior are never far from baseball fans' minds. But Strasburg is healthy -- he's 18 months removed from surgery. And his ability is clearly intact.
If there's one worry about a pitcher returning from elbow surgery, it's location. Command and control tend to lag behind raw stuff for rehabbing hurlers. Strasburg's performance in '11 shows that he's unlikely to have that problem. His iffy location Sunday -- and it's worth noting he didn't walk a batter -- is much more likely the result of it being March than of his rehabilitation.
"It's been a while since I've thrown offspeed [pitches] to hitters," he said. "I think the biggest thing that I noticed was that it was very easy for me to go out there, even going into the third inning my arm felt like I could have gone at least a few more."
If you're looking for a takeaway, this is it. A pitcher with staggering stuff and eerily precise command for his age feels strong. He feels healthy. It's far too soon to project numbers, and besides, pitchers aren't exactly the most predictable creatures. In general, though, bet the over on Strasburg. He has stuff, he has command and he has health. Regardless of what 2 2/3 innings -- or even 20 or 30 innings -- in Spring Training say.