Even in Grapefruit League action, Stephen Strasburg vs Jose Fernandez is a marquee matchup. Washington's 25-year-old, '09 no.1 overall pick and Miami's 21-year-old 2013 NL Rookie of the Year face off on the mound this afternoon in Jupiter, Florida's Roger Dean Stadium.
Strasburg makes his third appearance of the spring in today's 1:05 pm EDT game, coming off a three inning outing against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, in which the right-hander allowed two hits, two walks and one earned run, leaving him with three hits total, the one run and two walks allowed in five innings on the mound for the Nats thus far in Spring Training.
Fernandez has yet to allow a run in two starts and 5 1/3 IP so far this spring.
In 2013, the Marlins' 2011 1st Round pick finished at +4.2 fWAR, with a (12-6) record, a 2.19 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 58 walks (3.02 BB/9) and 187 Ks (9.75 K/9) in 28 starts and 172 2/3 IP.
• Nationals' Lineup:
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 15, 2014
Strasburg, coming off a +4.1 fWAR season in 2012, finished at +3.2 fWAR last season, with an (8-9) record, a 3.00 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 56 walks (2.75 BB/9) and 191 Ks (9.39 K/9) in 30 starts and 183 IP.
After facing the Cards last time out, Strasburg told reporters he struggled at the start after an exceptionally good session in the bullpen before he took the mound.
"I felt a little too good in the bullpen out there and tried to paint from the first pitch on instead of really starting a little bit bigger zone and then working off of the middle of the plate," he explained afterwards. After that, however, he settled in and felt more comfortable. "So, made a good adjustment," he said, "and didn't really see any problems."
• Marlins' Lineup:
#MarlinsST vs WSH: Furcal 2B, Solano SS, Salty C, McGehee DH, Ozuna CF, Bogusevic RF, Johnson LF, Wigginton 1B, Rodriguez 3B, Fernandez P— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) March 15, 2014
Though he caught himself trying to be "too fine" early in the outing, he said he felt more in sync than he did in his first start of the spring.
"It's good that it feels more in sync and more in tune," he explained, "now I've just got to stick to my game plan and not really try to throw the 0-2 pitch on the paint every time."
Fernandez threw 3 1/3 scoreless against the Mets last time out and told reporters, including the Florida Sun-Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez, after the start that he was treating each outing like a regular season outing.
"'To me, [Wednesday] out there was another day in this season,'" the right-hander explained. "'I’m taking this like the season. It was another day out there trying to work hard, trying to get better. That’s the only thing I can do.'"
It's start no.3 for each pitcher this time out, so they should be able to work on things a little bit longer than they did in each of their last starts.
Unfortunately for everyone following along at home, this afternoon's game is only available on the radio in Florida and via MLB.com's Gameday audio.
Who's listening to the Nationals?