Stephen Strasburg threw his second live BP session of the Spring earlier this week rather than make his first Grapefruit League start. Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez explained to reporters at the time that Washington’s 29-year-old co-ace (and the third-place finisher in 2017’s NL Cy Young race) wanted to throw again in a more controlled environment before his 2018 Spring debut.
“He wanted one more touch-and-feel kind of outing, so we let him do it with a live BP,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“This way you don’t have to worry about how many innings, how many pitches he throws. It’s more controlled.”
This afternoon, however, Strasburg will take the mound for live action against the World Series champion Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Strasburg went (15-4) in 28 starts in 2017, with a 2.52 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 204 Ks (10.47 K/9), 47 walks (2.41 BB/9), and a stingy .203/.265/.317 line against in 175 1⁄3 innings pitched.
The No. 1 overall pick of the ‘09 Draft pitched exclusively out of the stretch for the first time last season, and said he planned on doing the same this time around when asked earlier this winter if he would stick with the approach.
“Why not?” Strasburg asked the reporter who posed the question.
“The results were better,” the right-hander explained, “but I can’t really control the results.
“I think it benefited me most by just being more consistent to home plate. It opened up different ways to attack guys. There were guys that kind of had my number, and facing them again, giving them a different look, kind of showed me that maybe I was doing something that was giving them an advantage, so I don’t know whether it’s something that they see with me tipping my pitches, or my timing to home plate, there are a variety of things, but I think as a pitcher you’ve got to focus on what you can control, and that’s doing everything you can to keep them off-balance.”
Strasburg will try to keep Astros’ hitters off-balance this afternoon in the matchup which is available (via Houston’s feed) on MLB.tv at 1:05 PM EST.