WASHINGTON, D.C.: Stephen Strasburg’s 2017 campaign was impressive enough to earn him a third-place finish in the voting for the NL Cy Young, but it was in the second half of the season that the 2009 No. 1 overall pick was well-nigh unhittable.
In 10 starts and 62 2⁄3 innings after the All-Star Break, Strasburg put up a 0.86 ERA, 1.96 FIP, and a .171/.231/.226 line against, and he continued to dominate opposing hitters in his two postseason starts, when he held the Chicago Cubs to two unearned runs in 14 innings and helped keep the Washington Nationals’ season alive with a dominant performance in a win-or-go-home Game 4 start in Wrigley Field.
In his first outing of the 2018 campaign last week in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, the right-hander held Reds’ hitters to three runs (one earned) over 6 1⁄3 innings, striking out seven batters on 99 pitches.
This afternoon, in the 2018 home opener in Nationals Park, Strasburg was facing the NL East rival New York Mets, against whom he was (1-1) with a 2.96 ERA in 24 1⁄3 innings last season.
Strasburg gave up a run early, when Jay Bruce doubled, took third on a groundout one out later, and then scored (after a two-out walk to Mets’ catcher Kevin Plawecki), when the Nats’ starter was charged with a balk on an attempted pickoff throw to first, 1-1.
It was 2-1 Nationals in the fourth when Yoenis Cespedes got all of a 95 mph 1-0 fastball from Strasburg, and deposited it in the left-center seats for a solo blast that tied things up at 2-2.
A two-run home run to left field by Michael Conforto (that had to be confirmed by replay) put the Mets up by two, 4-2, at the end of a 23-pitch fifth that left the Nats’ starter at 80 pitches total on the day.
Strasburg worked around a two-out single in the sixth, finishing the 12-pitch inning at 92 pitches overall, and that was it for his 2018 home debut.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 HRs, 92 P, 65 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
Strasburg took the loss in what ended up an 8-2 game in the Mets’ favor. He talked after the outing about wanting the pitches he threw to Cespedes and Conforto back.
Cespedes’s home run came on a 95 mph 1-0 fastball low in the zone that the Mets’ slugger lifted out to deep left field:
Conforto went the other way with a 97 mph fastball:
”I wish I had those two pitches back,” Strasburg said. “I’ll learn from it.”
“He was fine. He was good. I know he said he made a couple bad pitches, but other than that, he did well,” Nats’ skipper Dave Martinez told reporters.
The two home runs Strasburg allowed today in six innings of work, matched the total he gave up in the 62 2⁄3 innings he worked in the second half last season.