Three of the four runs Stephen Strasburg gave up in his 2019 debut came in his first inning of work on the mound last week when he faced the New York Mets in the nation’s capital.
He gave up four runs total in six innings of work in that start, walking two and striking out eight of the 27 batters he faced in a 96-pitch outing against Washington’s NL East rivals.
“I got better as the game went on,” the 30-year-old starter told reporters after receiving no decision in what ended up an 11-8 loss in which he received no decision.
“I thought my stuff was pretty good in the first, but they were just whacking it all over the place, but sometimes that happens, you’ve just got to weather the storm and try to keep the team in the ballgame.”
Assessing his start overall, the right-hander said it was fine for his initial outing.
“It’s the first start and come out feeling really good, still feeling fresh, probably could have gone further, so that’s the big positive, and just going to continue to focus on the process and focus on sharpening things up.”
Stephen Strasburg, 94mph Up/In Fastball and 80mph Curveball.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 4, 2019
Good look how that fastball protected his curveball. pic.twitter.com/FN8sHu3XPb
This time out, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick was facing the Mets in Citi Field, where he’s pitched well in his career, with a (7-1) record in 10 career starts and a 2.37 ERA in 60 2⁄3 innings, and just one home run allowed in his previous six outings.
Strasburg looked sharp at the start of this afternoon’s game, working around an error in the first and holding the Mets hitless through four before former teammate Wilson Ramos lined a single through the left side to start the fifth with the first hit of the game for either team.
He was up to six scoreless after retiring the Mets in order in a 16-pitch sixth which left him at 93 pitches total on the afternoon, with eight strikeouts from the 21 batters he faced and only the one hit allowed.
Back-to-back, two-out hits in the seventh ended his outing, but Matt Grace got out No. 3 to keep the Nationals ahead, 2-0, in what ended up a 4-0 win.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 108 P, 67 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
Stephen Strasburg, Filthy 93mph Two Seamer. pic.twitter.com/zjbMQ9GgTr— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 4, 2019
“We have to tip our hats to Strasburg,” Noah Syndergaard said, after giving up two runs and just one hit in six innings. “He threw really well over there and kept our hitters off-balance.”
Davey Martinez was asked what was working for the right-hander in the Nationals’ third win in six games.
“Everything,” he said. “He used both sides of the plate, two-seamer was good, changeup, curveballs were good, I mean he was awesome today.”
Strasburg generated 17 swinging strikes, 12 called strikes, sat around 93 with his fastball, and hit 95 on his 102nd of 108 total pitches.
“He’s pitching,” Martinez said. “He’s using all his pitches, both sides of the plate, and he looks really good.”
Upon further review: he went. pic.twitter.com/4akZQ1bWSC— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 4, 2019
Martinez pulled Strasburg in the seventh, handing a two-on, two-out situation to lefty Matt Grace, who got the final out of the inning, then handed it off to Justin Miller and Tony Sipp, who combined for a scoreless eighth, and Sean Doolittle, who threw a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.
It was a welcome result for a bullpen that’s struggled through the first five games.
“[Strasburg] was already at  pitches,” Martinez said when asked about lifting him when he did.
“So I mean, that’s good for Stephen, he did a great job, so like I said before, if we’re going to do this I’ve got to trust the bullpen to get the job done, and they got it done.”
Strasburg, while acknowledging that things haven’t gone well for the relief corps early, said that with the talent they have, it will turn around.
“It’s easy to kind of nitpick,” he said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“Obviously [the bullpen] hasn’t started the way that they hoped, but it’s important to practice patience. That’s the biggest thing. We know what we got in here, and I think you watch those games and it’s crazy some of the things that were going on. But that’s baseball. So that’s not sustainable either.”
“They did a great job,” Martinez said of the bullpen. “Did a great job. Took the ball from Stephen and those guys got it done.”