Stephen Strasburg struggled with his command early last time out, talking after the start about the difficulty of warming up and concentrating on locating his fastball in a windy bullpen before he took the mound in AT&T Park. The 24-year-old right-hander threw 31 pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson later pointed to the long opening frame as the reason he turned to the bullpen after seven innings from his starter in which Strasburg eventually found his control and held the defending World Series Champs to five hits, three walks and one earned run over seven innings in which he threw 108 pitches.
After receiving no decision in his 10th start of the 2013 campaign, which ended up being a 4-2 loss to the Giants, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick was (2-5) with a 2.66 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 21 walks (2.94 BB/9) and 62 Ks (8.67 K/9) in 64.1 IP.
"I think for the most part I've been able to make an adjustment with my fastball," Strasburg told reporters after the start in San Francisco last Tuesday night. "Still not quite perfect command or where I want it to be, but I'm missing in better spots and not leaving as many pitches up."
"His velocity was good, his stuff was good, he mixed and matched three plus pitches in the strike zone for the most part," Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday morning as he broke down the previous night's start, "and really kept a hot-hitting, very good lineup in check and certainly gave us a chance to win the ballgame, which is what we expect our starting rotation to do each and every night out there. We just couldn't close the deal out for him, but it was good to see him in command of a ballgame, go deep into a game when we really needed it."
Strasburg went head to head with Giants' right-hander Matt Cain that night. This afternoon in Nationals Park, the Nats' ace goes head-to-head with Phillies' lefty Cole Hamels in the rubber match of Washington's three-game set with Philadelphia. The Phillies' 2002 first round pick has lost four of his last five starts and seven of ten outings so far this season, but he enters this afternoon's series finale in the nation's capital with a (3-1) record and a 1.96 ERA in the Nats' home since it opened in 2008 and a (13-5) record with a 2.57 ERA in 24 career starts and 157.1 IP against Philly's divisional rivals from Washington in his eight-year MLB career.
• Here's the Nats' lineup for the third game of three vs the Phillies at 1:35 pm EST in D.C.:
#Nationals lineup vs. PHI: Span 8, Harper 9, Zimmerman 5, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Moore 7, Solano 2, Lombardozzi 4, Strasburg 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 26, 2013