Stephen Strasburg was unbeaten over an eight-outing stretch between June 21st and July 28th, posting a 2.22 ERA, 10 walks, 53 Ks, and a .205/.267/.295 line against in 44 2⁄3 IP, but heading into Wednesday afternoon’s series finale with the Cincinnati Reds in the nation’s capital, the 31-year-old right-hander was winless in his previous two outings (0-1, 9.26 ERA, 4 BB, 13 Ks, .271/.327/.646 in 11 2/3).
The ‘09 No. 1 overall pick gave up nine hits and nine runs in 4 2⁄3 IP on the road in Arizona’s Chase Field, then gave up four hits and three runs in New York’s Citi Field, taking a loss in the game against the D-backs and receiving no decision in Washington’s loss to the Mets in the first game of the series with the Nationals’ NL East rivals this past weekend.
“He was awesome,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Strasburg gave up two of four hits, all three runs, and the only two walks he allowed in the fourth of his seven innings on the mound, in an otherwise strong outing against the Mets.
“He kept us in the ballgame,” the manager added. “He had one bad inning, but after that he was really, really good.”
Strasburg tossed three scoreless on 49 pitches to start his outing against the Reds yesterday, but the first two batters in the fourth reached base, Eugenio Suárez on a grounder toward short that Trea Turner couldn’t handle, and Josh VanMeter on a single to left field, and two outs later, Suárez scored from third on a third strike/wild pitch when the Nats’ starter got José Iglesias swinging at a 2-2 curve in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Kurt Suzuki, 1-1.
Stephen Strasburg, Disgusting 83mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/X7YEwSlzu6— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 14, 2019
Strasburg helped his own cause with an RBI single off Reds’ starter Trevor Bauer in the fifth, putting the Nationals ahead, 2-1, and they ended up scoring nine more runs before he took the mound again, up 11-1. The long delay, and baserunning he did, didn’t seem to help.
A one-out single and double in the Reds’ sixth made it a nine-run game, 11-2, and a two-run home run made it 11-4.
Strasburg got a mound visit with two down, and looked like he was getting taken out, but he told his manager he wanted to stay in and Martinez let him remain in the game, but the Nats’ starter issued a two-out walk and was lifted at that point...
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 110 P, 75 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
“He didn’t want to come out,” Martinez said when he was asked after the game about the conversation on the hill in the sixth.
“He wanted to finish the inning, so I just told him, ‘Hey, alright you’ve got one more hitter. Let’s go. This is it.’ And he was fine after that. He was just a little upset he couldn’t get through the inning, so you know what though, he’s competing out there and he knows what’s going on with our club and he wanted to get through that sixth inning.”
“It was definitely a grind out there,” Strasburg said of his less-than-stellar start, “and kind of all over the place with some pitches. Team came out swinging today, so they picked me up.”
In spite of his struggles, the Nationals put up 17 runs in the end, in a 17-7 win, and Strasburg earned his 15th win on the season. He finished the day (15-5) in 25 starts, with a 3.82 ERA, a 3.37 FIP, 41 walks (2.34 BB/9), and 185 Ks (10.54 K/9) in 158 IP.
What does it mean to him to have 15 wins at this point, tying a career high he’s hit four times now?
“Not much really,” he said. “It’s August, so just got to keep grinding.”
He said, as Martinez suggested, that he was frustrated when he struggled to get through the sixth, and walked the final batter he faced.
“Yeah, I mean, it was definitely frustrating, but I can’t really dwell on that one,” Strasburg said.
“I made a lot of good pitches over the course of the day, but would I have liked to have finished stronger? Absolutely, but it’s just one of those games, and I didn’t do that today. You always try to go as long as you can and as hard as you can and that’s all you can do.”
Well, that, and contribute at the plate. Strasburg’s 1 for 2 game left him 6 for 18 in his last seven starts.
“I’m going to have to start thinking about using him to pinch hit,” Martinez said, “but he’s swinging the bat well.”