There will be no limitations on Stephen Strasburg in his next-to-last start of 2012 tonight in Nationals Park. The 24-year-old right-hander will take on the Miami Marlins for the fifth time this season. He'd yet to allow a run against the Nats' NL East rivals before his last outing in Marlins Park, where he struggled with his control and got knocked around a bit for nine hits and seven runs (five earned) in 5.0 IP.
On the year, however, Strasburg has dominated the Fish, going (2-1) with a 1.96 ERA, four walks (1.57 BB/9) and 22 Ks (8.60 K/9) in 23.0 IP, and as Davey Johnson hinted in the pregame press conference this afternoon, he might be out for a little revenge tonight for what the Marlins did to him in Miami. "I know he's fully aware of the bushwacking he got last time," Johnson joked, "So, they may not be as comfortable up there, I don't know."
The Nationals' 69-year-old skipper said it's a normal start for Strasburg, in spite of the fact that it's his next-to-last outing of the season. There won't be any limitations on the number of pitches or innings he throws. "He's a big strong horse," Johnson said, "Like I say, every game is a big game." Johnson said he hadn't had any further discussions with Strasburg since the sitdown earlier this week in which the team shared their plan to shut him down after next Wednesday's start in New York. While he's still throwing, Johnson said he knows Strasburg will do what he can while he can to help the team win. "He may not show it like [Bryce] Harper," Johnson said, "But he's all-in every time he takes the rubber. He's as serious as a heart attack."
The Nats' manager admitted he knew Strasburg didn't want to stop taking part in what the team is doing this season. "He's a part of this team and he wants to be helping to the end," Johnson told reporters, "He doesn't want to let the team down. That's the emotional part and the professional part on his side. He's willing to risk it being his last year to have that and I understand that, but it's our job to make sure he's not another Mark Prior or [Kerry] Wood."