In four starts since he came off a stint on the Disabled List for a right elbow nerve impingement on August 16th, Stephen Strasburg had posted a 0.67 ERA, with three walks (1.00 BB/9), 31 strikeouts (10.33 K/9) and a .198/.222/.271 line against in 27 innings, 26 of them scoreless, heading into Sunday afternoon’s start.
“He has great command right now,” Dusty Baker said when asked about Strasburg’s scoreless innings streak after he’d extended it with six scoreless in Miami before he suffered calf cramps that ended his outing.
“He has great command of his fastball, and they’re really not picking up his changeup or his slider,” Baker added.
That dominant stretch continued against the Philadelphia Phillies with the 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick retiring 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, working around a one-out walk in the top of the fourth with an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
Maikel Franco hit a full-count curve up in the zone to left for the Phillies’ first hit with one down in the fifth, but Strasburg stranded the second runner to reach base as well, and completed five scoreless on 62 pitches.
Strasburg added a K in a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth inning, and was up to eight strikeouts and 78 pitches after six scoreless.
He took the mound with a 2-0 lead in top of the seventh, and added two strikeouts in a 15-pitch frame, for 10 total on 93 pitches.
MASN’s cameras caught the Nationals’ trainer massaging Strasburg’s left thumb/hand in-between innings, but he came back out for the eighth, and worked around a leadoff single, getting a 5-4-3 DP that had him about as excited as we’ve seen him since he was still at San Diego State University. The eighth ended up being a 15-pitch frame that left him at 108 pitches total.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 108P, 76 S, 6/1 GO/FO.
Strasburg threw 70% of his pitches for strikes, and collected 21 swinging strikes on the 60 pitches Phillies’ hitters offered at, and had a total of 62 strikes that weren’t put in play according to Brooks Baseball.
Philly skipper Pete Mackanin said it was a good lesson for his young hitters to face a pitcher going as well as Strasburg is right now.
“You want to throw guys right into the fire and let them know what they’re up against,” Mackanin said, as quoted by Philly.com writer Matt Gelb.
“He’s one of the better pitchers in the league. We didn’t hit him. He had his best stuff today, in my opinion.”
In five outings since returning from the DL, Strasburg is now (3-1) with two earned runs allowed (0.51 ERA), four walks (1.03 BB/9), 41 Ks (10.54 K/9), and a .175/.202/.233 line against in 35 IP, 34 of them scoreless, giving him the longest streak of consecutive scoreless innings pitched in franchise history.