Stephen Strasburg wrapped up his 2017 campaign with two starts in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs in which he walked three, struck out 22, and gave up just six hits and two unearned runs in 14 innings.
Those last two starts don’t factor in the voting for the 2017 NL Cy Young, which took place before the start of the postseason, but the outings went a long way in changing the national perception of Strasburg in terms of his toughness, though he did have to endure 12 hours of “hothouse flower” chatter before the Game 4 start in Wrigley Field, when it looked like he wouldn’t take the mound because of flu-like symptoms.
Strasburg asked for the ball, and got it, however, then he tossed seven scoreless on the road to keep the Nationals’ season alive.
The 29-year-old right-hander’s season finished on a high note, though the Nats lost the series finale to the Cubs.
Strasburg finished the regular season (15-4) in 28 starts, posting a 2.52 ERA, a 2.72 FIP, 47 walks (2.41 BB/9), 204 Ks (10.47 K/9), and a .203/.265/.317 line against over 175 1⁄3 IP.
It’s the righty’s second-half numbers that really stand out.
In ten starts after the All-Star Break, Strasburg, who missed time on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement, went (6-1) with a 0.86 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 14 BB (2.01 BB/9), 76 Ks (10.96 K/9), and a .171/.231/.226 line against in 62 2⁄3 IP.
Strasburg’s 2.52 ERA (a career low), was the third-lowest in the NL, he was ranked first in the National League with the lowest HR/9 (0.69), and opponents’ SLG (.317), ranked second in fWAR (5.6) and opponents’ OPS (.581), and third in WHIP (1.02), opponents’ OBP (.265), and opponents’ AVG (.203).
Now-former Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker actually credited the decision to place Strasburg on the DL in July with his success in the second-half.
“I think the major difference is when [Nationals’ GM Mike] Rizzo kind of mandated that Stras needed to be shut down when he was trying to work through what it was,” Baker said.
“I think that helped him tremendously. It gave him time to just work on his body, not worry about pitching, train more, and just get everything together.”
Rizzo, in a mid-September interview with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies, argued that the Nationals’ starter should be in the conversation for the 2017 NL Cy Young.
“He should be in the top three or four in Cy Young voting,” Rizzo said. “He’s been great this year. Four-pitch stuff, power stuff, around the plate.
“He’s really been in attack mode this year and I think he’s pitching more so than he ever has before, utilizing his other stuff early in the counts.
“He’ll pitch backwards at times where he’ll start you off with a breaking pitch, and then attack you with the fastballs, so I think he’s come a long way in his pitchability, the way he sequences.
“I think [Matt] Wieters has a lot to do with all of our pitchers and how they go after hitters and attack hitters, because he prepares so well for the opposing team.
“And I think that there’s a calmness and a real air of confidence in Stras that I haven’t probably seen in his career up until this point.”
Strasburg finished ninth in Cy Young voting back in 2014, his highest finish before this season, when he finished in the Top 3. He’s one of the finalists for this year’s award.
We’ll find out tonight if the right-hander wins his first Cy Young award. Rotation mate Max Scherzer, who’s won two Cy Young awards, one in each league, and Dodgers’ lefty Clayton Kershaw, who’s won three in the NL already, are the other two finalists. Who’s going to take home the award? We’ll find out tonight...
Who will win the 2017 NL Cy Young award?
This poll is closed
Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
Stephen Strasburg (WAS)
Max Scherzer (WAS)