Matt Williams sent Stephen Strasburg back out for the seventh inning in his last start against the San Diego Padres in spite of the fact the Washington Nationals' 25-year-old right-hander was up to 101 pitches after six innings of work. Though he gave up a hit, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick still managed to retire the side in an eight-pitch frame that left him at a season-high 109 pitches overall for the game.
"That's the learning curve, I think," Williams told reporters after what ended up being an 11-1 win in the nation's capital.
"He knows where he's at pitch count-wise," Williams continued. "And he knows that his pitches are probably limited in that inning anyway, so he went right after them. Threw even more fastballs in the last inning than he had in any inning previous. So, that's just him understanding where he's at in the game and he has to pound the strike zone and go after them and he did."
Strasburg told reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner, that he was trying to be aggressive but smart:
"'I’m just trying to make quality pitches and not necessarily be over aggressive by throwing the heater down the middle and challenging them. I’m just trying to make my pitches from first pitch on.'"
Williams said the extra inning of work was about preparing Strasburg for future starts when he might need to stretch it out in a close game.
"He hasn't been much over 100," the first-year skipper said, "so we get into a situation during the course of this year where he's got a one-run lead going into the seventh and he's at 100, we want him to be used to it and be able to get to the eighth if we want him to go that far."
Strasburg collected 11 Ks from the Padres' hitters last time out, reaching double digits in strikeouts for the 14th time in his career and also broke his own record for strikeouts in a single month by a Nationals' pitcher, besting the mark he set with 52 in June of 2012. He also improved to 3-0 this season when he strikes out 10+ batters in a start and 11-3 in his career when he hits double digits.
The Nationals' no.1 starter takes the mound in Citizens Bank Park tonight in the first game of three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
In anticipation of the first series of the year in CBP, we talked to Corey Seidman, who is a busy man, putting time in as a writer for @CSNPhilly, a co-host of Phillies Nation on TCN/CSN and a host on Phillies 24/7 HD radio where our interview from last night aired this afternoon.
We were on our best behavior, so didn't take the opportunity to drop a Nationals Park North comment into the conversation, but we did talk about the injuries to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, Harper's benching, Anthony Rendon's impressive first month and more in a quick conversation.
Check it out below. And thanks to Corey. It's not the first time we've talked to him and hopefully won't be the last. And yes it is possible to have cordial conversations with Phillies fans. Just listen... we are on at around the 13:00 minute mark...