Davey Johnson liked what he saw from Stephen Strasburg. The Washington Nationals' manager lifted his Opening Day starter after seven scoreless innings pitcher and 80 pitches, explaining that the atmosphere was draining and it was just the first of many starts to come this season. All the excitement, the introductions and awards ceremonies, "It drains you thinking about it," Johnson said, "It's a long Spring. You come out there, Opening Day crowd, all the ceremonies, all the people. Originally I was going to go 90-100 pitches and he gave me 7.0 strong innings and I think about  pitches. That was it for me."
In the 24-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick's second start of the 2013 season, the Nats' skipper stuck with his pitcher after Strasburg struggled early.
On the road in Cincinnati, Strasburg needed 23 pitches to get through a three hit, three run first against the Reds and he was up to 92 when Johnson sent his right-hander back out for the sixth. Strasburg didn't make it through the inning. With one down, three runs across and 114 pitches on his arm in what has then a 6-3 game in favor of the home team, the starter's second outing ended with the Nats' ace having allowed nine hits, four walks and six earned runs.
Davey Johnson said his no.1 starter's control wasn't really there with any of his pitches. "I've seen him have better location on all of them," the 70-year-old manager told reporters. "It's just about making your pitches," Johnson said, "He didn't make as good [of] pitches as he did-- after the first, second inning, he started hitting his spots a lot better. I thought he mixed his pitches up good, but it's again the location of pitches [that] means everything."
Strasburg agreed that as he went along and settled in he began to locate the ball much better than he did early against the Reds. Against Atlanta this past Saturday it was once again the command that caused Strasburg trouble in a 6.0 inning outing in which he threw 112 pitches, 68 of them strikes in a 3-1 loss to the Braves.
"He was throwing good," Johnson explained, "He just didn't have much command. It basically seems to be running through our staff. A little bit of command problems. He pitched well enough, you just have to tip your hat to [Tim] Hudson, he pitched a heck of a ballgame." Hudson needed 90 pitches to get through 7.0 innings in which he gave up four hits and one earned run. Strasburg was up to 90 in the fifth, he gave up just two unearned runs on a HR by Evan Gattis, who hit a 96 mph shoulder-high heater out to left in Nationals Park after a two-out error by Ryan Zimmerman. Can Strasburg avoid the early issues with his command in start no.4 and get back to where he was on Opening Day when he takes the mound Friday on the big stage in NY?
Strasburg's (1-2) with a 2.95 ERA, 3.09 FIP, five walks (2.45 BB/9) and 15 Ks (7.36 K/9) after 18.1 IP this season. The Nats' right-hander takes the mound against the New York Mets' Matt Harvey Friday night in New York's Citi Field, where he is (2-0) with a 0.69 ERA, three walks (2.08 BB/9) and 20 Ks (13.84 K/9) in two starts and 13.0 IP. Strasburg will, however, be facing 24-year-old New York Mets' 2010 1st Round pick Matt Harvey, who has a 0.82 ERA, 2.22 FIP, six walks (2.45 BB/9) and 25 Ks (10.23 K/9) in 22.0 innings pitched so far this season.
Probably end up a high-scoring slugfest, right? 7:10 pm EST from Citi Field.