Stephen Strasburg gave up two runs on five hits when he went up against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Dodger Stadium back in April, striking out 10 of the 28 batters he faced in what ended up a 4-0 loss.
Heading into the second start of the season against LA on Sunday afternoon, in the series finale with the Dodgers in Nationals Park, the 29-year-old right-hander was trying to extend a three-start winning streak, over which he’d put up a 2.61 ERA, with three walks, 25 Ks, and a .237/.272/.342 line against in 20 2⁄3 innings pitched.
On the season, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick was (5-3) in nine starts with a 3.28 ERA, a 3.41 FIP, 13 walks (1.94 BB/9), 68 Ks (10.14 K/9), and a .218/.270/.378 line against in 60 1⁄3 innings.
Strasburg gave up a run early in the third of three with the Dodgers in D.C. when catcher Yasmani Grandal hit an 0-1 fastball out to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for a leadoff blast in the second, and allowed a two-run home run by Kiki Hernandez in the fifth that accounted for LA’s only runs off Stras.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 115 P, 72 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Strasburg gave up two home runs total in 62 2⁄3 innings on the mound after the All-Star Break last season, in a dominant stretch for the right-hander, who ended up finishing in third place in 2017 NL Cy Young voting.
After giving up two home runs on Sunday afternoon, the 29-year-old Nationals’ starter has now given up 10 in 67 IP so far in 2018.
Strasburg gave up just four home runs in his first 67 1⁄3 IP in April and May last season, for what it’s worth, and 11 total in 112 2⁄3 IP in the ‘first half’ of the 2017 campaign.
Davey Martinez was asked after the 7-2 loss yesterday, if he’s seen anything different from Strasburg that’s leading to the home runs.
“I think it’s just mistake pitches,” Martinez said.
“When you make a mistake to good hitters, you’re going to get hurt, but once he realizes it, and he goes through the game, Grandal, after that [home run], he really didn’t get much to hit. But he gets it. He’s a horse.”
Hernandez, who hit the second blast, said he was hunting a fastball from Strasburg and got one.
“If he leaves a fastball over the heart of the plate, put a good swing on it and try to do some damage. Sure enough, he left the ball over the plate.”
Strasburg was pitching on seven day’s rest, which he said did affect his command to some degree. His four walks on the day were a season-high.
“It’s tough having a long layoff when you weren’t really expecting it,” Strasburg said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“I gave it everything I had. It just wasn’t good enough today. There’s going to be another game tomorrow and we just have to keep playing.”
“He pitched well,” Martinez said. “Made a couple mistakes that cost him, but other than that he pitched really well, kept us in the ballgame.”
NOTES: Strasburg got a visit on the mound at one point on Sunday, when it looked like he was landing awkardly, and fussing with his leg. Martinez said the concern was that cramps were affecting the right-hander, but both the pitcher and manager said that it was nothing when asked after the game.
“We thought he had a cramp in his hamstring, and he sweats so bad, he said he was wiping the sweat, kept wiping the sweat, but he kept grabbing his hamstring and we kind of got a little concerned,” Martinez explained.
“He had thrown a couple balls, and we thought maybe there was something wrong with his hamstring, I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t.”