Stephen Strasburg returned from a post-All-Star Break DL stint last August and went (5-1) in eight games down the stretch, over which the right-hander put up a 0.84 ERA, 10 walks, 63 Ks, and a .171/.221/.219 line against in 53 2⁄3 innings pitched.
This time around, the right-hander, who dealt with an elbow issue last season, had right shoulder inflammation sideline him after he went (6-6) in his first 13 outings, with a 3.46 ERA, 19 walks, and 95 Ks in 80 2⁄3 IP before the Break.
Strasburg returned to the mound Friday night to take on the Atlanta Braves in the second-half opener in Nationals Park, but he looked a little rusty early, giving up two hits, a single and a double, two stolen bases, and two runs in a 25-pitch first.
Kurt Suzuki hit a 3-2 fastball and Johan Camargo hit a 1-2 heater for back-to-back, one-out doubles to right-center in the fourth, as the Braves retook the lead after a Matt Adams’ HR tied things up at 2-2 in the bottom of the third.
Two doubles around a bunt single in the first three at bats of the fifth put the Braves up 5-2, and it was 6-2 after a sac fly when a two-out single on Strasburg’s 98th pitch ended his first start back off the DL.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 98 P, 64 S 5/3 GO/FO.
That’s when things got interesting, unfortunately. Strasburg returned to the Nats’ dugout and got into a heated exchange with Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer.
Both starters took it to the clubhouse at that point, and had a 15-minute talk with manager Davey Martinez to put things to rest after what ended up an 8-5 loss.
Strasburg didn’t discuss the details of the argument telling reporters it was a “family” matter and they weren’t in the family.
“We had a really good conversation,” Davey Martinez said after the game. “I’ll just say that, and it was addressed. And, look, they’re very competitive, everybody is, so I’m glad that we talked, it’s over, let’s move forward, these guys are professionals, they’re good, so I’m glad we had the conversation.”
As for what Strasburg had on the mound?
“He was a little inconsistent for him today, but that’s to be expected first time back out there,” Nats’ catcher Matt Wieters told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“But he did show signs of his good breaking ball and his good changeup. It’s just about being able to repeat it like we know he has done and he will do.”
“Yeah, pretty much,” Strasburg agreed.
“You want to try and be more efficient than that, for sure,” Strasburg said of the 98 pitches he through in 4 2⁄3 IP. “It just didn’t work out that way.”
Asked if he looked “off”, manager Davey Martinez said, “I wouldn’t say he was ‘off’, his first time back pitching against big league hitters, he made a couple of bad pitches, and that’s what cost him. That one inning in the fifth, he was up there in pitch count and wanted to keep him under 100 pitches, so... but I really believe he did well and I think he’s going to help us win a lot of games.”