One night Max Scherzer goes out and strikes out 13 batters, and the next Stephen Strasburg takes the mound and piles up 15 Ks. It’s not easy for opposing teams to match up against the Washington Nationals’ rotation.
While Scherzer has a 20-K start on his resume, Strasburg’s previous career-high was 14 strikeouts, a total he reached twice before, in his MLB debut back in June of 2010 and on September 15, 2015.
His focus when he’s on the mound, however, Strasburg explained, is to just pound the zone and make his pitches.
“I mean, I can’t really worry about whether they’re going to put it in play or not. I’m just trying to make pitches. Trying to attack the strike zone,” he told reporters after Saturday’s win.
It didn’t start as well as it ended for Strasburg, who loaded the bases before escaping an early jam in a scoreless, 27-pitch first.
“You’ve just got to keep grinding,” he said.
“Obviously if another inning or two happened like that again I wouldn’t have been able to go as deep, but you can only take it one pitch at a time, you can’t go out there and say, ‘I’ve got to keep my pitch count down because of that inning,’ it’s just grinding and keep making pitches.”
He was also able to record strikeouts with all his pitches, which is a nightmare for the opposing hitters trying to guess what he’s going to throw.
“When you can throw 95, as a hitter you’ve got to protect against the fastball,” Chris Speier told reporters after the win, “but he had — the last two outings he’s had his curveball working really, really well, and so it’s, like I said, ‘Good luck,’ as a hitter, that’s not easy.”
“I think the fact that you will go to any of those pitches keeps them off any single one,” Strasburg added, “so that’s just a part of pitching, keeping them off-balance, changing speeds, changing location.”
Whatever he was doing was working for the 28-year-old right-hander, who got the Topps NOW treatment for setting a new career high in strikeouts.
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