Stephen Strasburg's 6.0 inning outing against Atlanta last week, which saw the 24-year-old right-hander give up four hits, one walk and one run in a 4-1 win over the Braves, left the '09 no.1 overall pick with a (4-0) record in four August starts in which he's posted a 1.50 ERA and 1.93 FIP with 10 BB (3.75 BB/9) and 29 Ks (10.88 K/9) in 24.0 IP.
On the year, Strasburg is now (15-5) with a 2.85 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 43 BB (2.66 BB/9) and 183 Ks (11.33 K/9) in 25 starts and 145.1 innings during his first full major league season. Unless Davey Johnson starts taking some of the advice he receives on a daily basis, however, the Nats' no.1 starter's 2012 campaign is approaching an end, a little bit sooner than the schedule ends for the rest of his teammates. Johnson walked into his pregame press conference last week after Strasburg's start against the Braves and jokingly asked if anybody had, "... any more ideas on how to get Strasburg pitching in October?"
"The best one I got," Johnson said referrring to the steady stream of unsolicited suggestions he receives, was, "Trip him when he's in the outfield so he strains a hamstring or something and he's got to be down for a month. That was a good I one. I liked that one." Though the Nats' skipper said he didn't "Tweeter," he said he gets a substantial amount of texts (he said, "Textes", actually) and letters that offer advice, but ultimately he said he really wished that everyone could get by the whole "Stras thing."
"It's funny, there wasn't anything said when we shut down [Jordan] Zimmermann," Johnson said. When the Nationals did shut Zimmermann down last year, the Nationals' manager said he sort of "let the cat out of the bag," when he told reporters that then-debuting left-hander Tommy Milone would pitch the next weekend, which got back to Milone through social media channels before anyone had officially told the pitcher. "But everybody in the world will know on this one," Johnson said when it comes to Strasburg's eventual shutdown.
As Johnson explained last week, the team will likely need another starter to make 2-3 starts at the end of this season, effectively letting the "cat out of the bag" again as to when the actual shut down date will be, as a reporter pointed out, drawing a laugh out of the Nats' 69-year-old skipper. The end date depends on how many innings Johnson lets Strasburg pitch, but as he noted, "He's been averaging right around six innings. You guys should be able to do the math on that. If you need some help, I'll help you. I don't think the innings number is cut in stone. The science is not that exact, so there's a little leeway there. But that's down the road."
What the Nationals do know is that they need Strasburg to help them stop a losing streak tonight, which he's done several times already this season, as the Washington Post's James Wagner, among other writers, noted this morning, writing in an article entitled, "Stephen Strasburg may be the right cure for a Nationals losing streak" that four of six losing streaks of three games or more this year have been ended by the Nationals' ace:
"In those four starts that snapped a losing streak of at least three games, Strasburg has gone 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA, 18 hits allowed, six walks and 40 strikeouts in 25 innings."
Strasburg's made one start in Marlins Park this season, throwing 6.0 scoreless in which he walked one and K'd seven back on July 15th. In his career against the Nats' NL East rivals from Miami, Strasburg is (4-1) with 10 BB (2.23 BB/9), 43 Ks (9.60 K/9) a 1.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and .199 BAA in seven starts and 40.1 IP. The right-hander is (6-1) with the Nationals 6-2 in his last eight starts, he's won four straight and five of six, and he's being called upon now to stop the Nats' four-game losing streak, which has left them just 5.0 games up on the Braves after his last win had given them a 7.0 game lead in the division. Strasburg makes his 26th start of 2012 tonight. While he's still throwing, the right-hander will get a few more opportunities to do all he can to get the Nationals where they all want to be in October, even though he won't be able to help them out then...
7:10 pm EDT tonight in Miami.