In three starts since he returned from a DL stint for an upper back injury, Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg has allowed just five hits from the 78 batters he's faced. Strasburg has allowed just two earned runs in 21 ⅔ innings (0.83 ERA) over that stretch, and he's held opposing hitters to a .072/.179/.116 line over that stretch, improving to 13-0 so far in 2016 with last night's win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In earning last night's win, Strasburg became the first NL starter since New York Giants' lefty Rube Marquard in 1912 to start a season 13-0. Marquard went on to an 18-0 start (19-0 with a win in what Hardball Times' writer Chris Jaffe wrote back in 2012 must have been a relief appearance, though game logs for 1912 aren't readily available).
Strasburg is just the eighth starting pitcher in MLB history to start a season 13-0, and the first since Max Scherzer started the 2013 campaign 13-0 for the Detroit Tigers.
With the win, Strasburg also increased his personal winning streak to 16-straight games, going back to last September, which is the second-longest streak in D.C.-baseball history, behind only Washington Senators' starter Firpo Marberry, who won 17-straight between 1930-31.
Nats' skipper Dusty Baker talked after last night's win, which saw Strasburg give up three hits and one earned run in eight innings on a hot and humid night in the nation's capital, about the dominant season Strasburg has put together thus far and the last three starts in particular.
"He's been outstanding and his record speaks for itself," Baker said. "Usually, I heard, he would kind of wilt in these games, but we urged him to increase his work in between starts, and so it seems like it's paid off.
"He seemed unfazed by the heat and it was an outstanding game. It was a good game to watch. They helped us some by making a couple of errors, and usually, I think they're right behind us in defense and so they've got a good defensive team, they're always in the top of the league in double plays, which they are still and we beat a very good team today."
Strasburg was up to just 90 pitches after seven innings and he looked like he might be on his way to his first complete game of the season.
"He ran into a little trouble in the eighth and his pitch count got up there," Baker said.
"But then at that point, we've got a fresh bullpen, we've got a day off Monday and it was hot out there and everything leaned towards going to [Shawn] Kelley."
Strasburg returned from the All-Star Break with another strong outing. Last night's start left the right-hander with a 2.51 ERA, a 2.93 FIP, 33 walks (2.59 BB/9), 138 Ks (10.83 K/9) and a .194/.258/.307 line against in 114 ⅔ IP.
He decided not to pitch in the Midsummer Classic, which was held in his home town in San Diego, so that he would be ready to take the mound in the second-half opener.
"He got probably some grief by not pitching in the All-Star Game," Baker said, "but he was doing what he thought was best for us and for him. And boy, that sets the tone for the rest of the series."