Matt Williams on Nationals' RHP Stephen Strasburg trying to pitch to contact

Greg Fiume

It's hard to pitch to contact when no one can square your pitches up. Washington Nationals' Manager Matt Williams told Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth on MLB Network Radio today that Stephen Strasburg is trying to pitch to contact, but it's not easy...

Nats' skipper Matt Williams was on the MLB Network Radio show First Pitch with Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth this morning.

During the course of their conversation they discussed the Washington Nationals' offensive issues during the current homestand and the drama with Bryce Harper last week. Williams also talked Stephen Strasburg, and the 25-year-old right-hander's unsuccessful attempts to pitch to contract.

"He gets deep into pitch counts early in games. Everybody talks about, 'Well just pitch to contact more.' Well, he's trying to." - Matt Williams on Stephen Strasburg trying to pitch to contact

Through five starts this season, the Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick is (0-1) with a 5.33 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 10 walks (3.33 BB/9) and 42 Ks (14.00 K/9) in 27 IP. Strasburg's 14 K/9 are up from a career average 10.65 K/9, but he's throwing a lot of pitches, and has yet to get through the seventh inning in any of his outings.

As the Nats' skipper explained it, the soaring strikeout totals and high pitch counts are a result of Strasburg trying to pitch to contact.

"The problem with Stephen is that his stuff is so good that there are a lot of foul balls," Williams said. "He gets deep into pitch counts early in games. Everybody talks about, 'Well, just pitch to contact more.' Well, he's trying to. But his stuff is so good that his pitch count gets elevated early. And that's kind of the M.O."

"I'll give you a little experience from my background," Williams continued. "Playing with Randy Johnson was a little bit the same way. Randy just couldn't get away from 120 [pitches] through seven because he was striking guys out and he'd throw it in there and hope they'd hit it, but they'd foul it off or just swing and miss it. That's a function of just great stuff."

Williams said he thinks Strasburg will get there, but if he gives them six strong innings, it's up to the bullpen to take care of the rest.

• Check out what Williams had to say about benching Bryce Harper during his MLB Network interview:

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