Stephen Strasburg faced the Philadelphia Phillies in back-to-back starts in August coming off his second stint on the Disabled List this season, giving up seven hits and five earned runs in just 4 2⁄3 innings pitched in the first outing, before improving the next time out with a six-inning appearance which saw him hold Washington’s NL East rivals to two runs on five hits.
In four starts back in the Nationals’ rotation, the right-hander was (1-0) with a 4.57 ERA, nine walks, 23 Ks, and a .277/.351/.434 line against in 21 2⁄3 IP before facing the Phillies again last night in Citizens Bank Park.
Though his velocity is not up where it’s been in the last few seasons, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after Strasburg’s previous start that he liked what he was seeing from the 30-year-old starter.
“He’s pitching now,” Martinez said. “He’s not throwing the 97, but he’s making good pitches every at bat and I like that.”
Stephen Strasburg, Wicked 86mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/hX2uoRoeqO— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 13, 2018
Strasburg took the mound with a 3-0 lead last night in the series finale in Citizens Bank, and was up 4-0 before the Phillies got on the board with a solo home run by J.P. Crawford in the bottom of the fifth.
Strasburg came back out for the seventh inning with just the one run allowed and eight Ks on 81 pitches, and worked around a one-out single in a 20-pitch frame, picking up his ninth strikeout and wrapping up his outing after 101 pitches.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 64 S, 3/6 GO/FO.
Martinez talked after what ended up a 5-1 win about another impressive outing from the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick.
“He’s been really good,” Martinez said. “Like I said, he’s pitching now and he’s mixing all his pitches in and attacking the strike zone. He fell behind a couple times and then he got right back to throwing strikes. He did really, really well.”
Strasburg’s four-seam fastballs sat around 93-95, and his change was particularly effective, generating 10 swings and eight swinging strikes overall on the night, and he mixed in a few two-seam fastballs, three sliders, and 27 curves. He said after the win that he wasn’t all that concerned about his fastball still not quite being where it was before the shoulder and neck issues that landed him on the DL.
“It’s kind of at the point where it’s going to take probably an offseason to get the stuff back,” he explained, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“Instead of trying to reach back for it and not make pitches, you just have to pitch where you’re comfortable at and not really look at the [radar] gun too much.”
“I think for me,” Martinez added, “like I said, he’s attacking the strike zone and he’s really staying underneath himself, so he’s not getting ahead of himself, he’s not jumping, he’s using his legs really well, I mean, I think he could have went back out there, but at 100 pitches that’s good enough for him. He had a great day.”