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D’backs 14, Nats 6: Strasburg rocked, win streak ends

May 13, 2015, 12:39 AM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Stephen Strasburg took the mound Tuesday night at Chase Field with even more eyes focused on him than usual, everyone wondering if he would bounce back from last week’s abbreviated start that saw the right-hander wincing after several pitches, or whether there was any cause for lingering concern. Very quickly, it became clear Strasburg wasn’t going to put questions about him to rest.

The right-hander was roughed up by the Diamondbacks, allowing eight runs (seven earned) in only 3 1/3 innings. He served up homers to Ender Inciarte and Mark Trumbo, couldn’t field a routine bunt and couldn’t command any of his pitches. There was no wincing apparent this time, but Strasburg’s second straight abbreviated outing did little to quash any concerns about him.

This one didn’t prove to be much of a game, because the Nationals’ lineup did little against Arizona right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, aside from Bryce Harper (who went 2-for-3 with another home run). The Nats’ bullpen didn’t help matters, either, with Sammy Solis and Matt Grace combining to give up six more runs. The real pitching star, as it turned out, was Clint Robinson, who became the first position player in Nats history (2005-present) to pitch and recorded a scoreless eighth featuring an 81-mph fastball. That at least brought some levity to an otherwise disconsolate Nationals dugout.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: It meant very little in this game, and possibly even in the bigger picture, but Harper’s sixth-inning homer was a sight to see nonetheless. De La Rosa threw him a changeup down and away, and Harper sort of waved his bat at it, not even following through all the way. Yet somehow he pulled it roughly 380 feet to right-center field for his 12th homer of the season, his seventh in six games. It was a stunning display of the kid’s raw power, and further evidence that what he’s doing right now is only the beginning of what is still to come.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: There’s plenty of debate right now from those trying to figure out what’s wrong with Strasburg, whether he’s hurt or whether he doesn’t have the mental makeup to pitch through adversity. Truthfully, his struggles probably boil down to this: Poor mechanics and poor command. Strasburg has admitted he’s having trouble with his alignment as he releases the ball, his plant foot veering too far to the right. That leads to command issues, especially with his fastball. And that fastball (which doesn’t move very much) is eminently hittable right now. The end result isn’t pretty: Strasburg now owns a 6.06 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and 50 hits allowed in 35 2/3 innings this season. He also has reached the seventh inning only once in seven starts so far. All of that is a real concern.

KEY STAT: The Nationals’ regular 5-man rotation now sports a 3.62 ERA. Remove Strasburg and that number drops to 3.10.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up with a Wednesday matinee at Chase Field. Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 3.62) faces Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.85) at 3:40 p.m. EDT.

  1. Drew - May 13, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Well, there’s this: 33 from 100 and 688 from Henry Aaron.

  2. veejh - May 13, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    Gio has been excellent. Forget about this disaster and move on.

    Those young BP arms sucked, too. Blah all around.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:46 AM

      Robinson looked good.

  3. manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    Here are good points.

    Harper still hitting fine.

    Ramos 15 game hitting streak.

    Team only struck out 4 times.

    We scored 6. That wins at least 98% of the time.

    Everyone hit (except Desmond)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:46 AM

      +1

    • Guapo - May 13, 2015 at 8:51 AM

      Good stuff.

      I’m OK with Desmond not hitting as long as he’s not kicking balls all over the infield.

  4. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    Nats score 6 runs and the best pitcher of the night was Clint Robinson and Harper hits a HR and Ramos extends that hit streak to 15 games.

    Good night. Nats stay 2.5 off 1st place.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:48 AM

      Every time Strasburg pitches poor, they immediately think injured.

      Can’t he just pitch poorly without speculation.

  5. David Proctor - May 13, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    Very concerned about every starting pitcher except Scherzer and, believe it or not, Gio.

    JZimm’s velocity and command has been off.
    Likewise for Fister, though his results haven’t suffered as much.
    Strasburg looks like a wreck mechanically and mentally. No idea why he was throwing sliders tonight after that pitch was destroyed last year.

    Can’t say enough how impressed I was by Harper. And I loved the attitude and fight in the boys at the very end.

    Plus, Clint Robinson. That was fun.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:51 AM

      JZim I figure will be fine.

      Fister for the same reason being a bulldog and will ve fine.

      Nothing about Strasburg’s approach gives me the same confidence.

      I was at the April 19 game and Strasburg looked great. Where did that pitcher go?

      • David Proctor - May 13, 2015 at 1:05 AM

        I don’t think it has much to do with being a bulldog. The velocity and command isn’t there for those two

  6. manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:49 AM

    One game at time, one series at a time.

  7. veejh - May 13, 2015 at 12:50 AM

    Strasburg is:
    a) hurt
    b) just not that good
    c) inconsistent
    d) not quite 100%
    e) a mental case
    f) the next coming of Jesus

    More than one answer may apply.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 12:54 AM

      c for sure.

      Possibly f. Hated the people who picked him on draft kings today.

      Of course I am raking tonight as I used Harper, Trumbo, inciarte. 4 homers thus game alone. also used Ether. Great night for me.

    • nattygoats - May 13, 2015 at 4:33 AM

      B

    • NatsNut - May 13, 2015 at 7:24 AM

      LOL. This is pretty much every opinion in a nutshell!

    • Guapo - May 13, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      e)

  8. veejh - May 13, 2015 at 12:50 AM

    Strasburg is:
    a) hurt
    b) just not that good
    c) inconsistent
    d) not quite 100%
    e) a mental case
    f) the next coming of Jesus

    More than one answer may apply.

  9. natsmachine - May 13, 2015 at 1:00 AM

    First post so don’t kill me. Not feeling good about the pitching tonight, but, more specifically about when to pull starters and when and where to use bullpen members. Williams left Strasburg in too long tonight and then didn’t go with a more experienced pitcher like Roark. Too early for Solis. Too bad he went with Treinan last night. Williams needs to figure out a better bullpen rotation. Again, we may have lost to a better hitting team tonight, but it should have been closer and potentially winnable.

    • NatsLady - May 13, 2015 at 1:34 AM

      I didn’t see the beginning of the game (tuned in when it was 10-4) but I think Williams is “saving” Roark for tomorrow or Thursday when he has Gio (a high pitch-count guy) and Fister (hits the wall suddenly), both of whom could leave early but with a lead. That’s the type of situation you want Roark for, to preserve a lead. Your guys like Solis have the job of keeping it close–or, at least, not making it worse.

      As for when Stras should have been pulled. Of course it would have been nice to have him out of there at 4-2. Not gonna happen unless Stras was injured (jury out on that, they showed a replay of him rubbing his lower back). Stras had struck out Trumbo in his previous at-bat. So it wasn’t entirely predictable that he’d hit a three-run homer. There are no off-days until Monday. Chalk it up to the time change kicking in and move on to the next one.

  10. nattygoats - May 13, 2015 at 4:37 AM

    move him to bullpen and start Roark.

    • ArVAFan - May 13, 2015 at 8:02 AM

      Roark’s not ready to start (yet). But I’m sure he’d be willing to get back in the rotation if asked. Heck, he’d pinch run if asked. But he hasn’t built up to starter level pitching (yet). If we see that happening, well, that’s why you can never have too much pitching.

    • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      For most of his career Strasburg’s worst inning was his first. That performance profile doesn’t scream “bullpen” to me.

  11. ehay2k - May 13, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    So, I wonder if ALR was cursing his luck? He always wanted to pitch in a game, and some other guy )a no-name reserve!) comes in and provides a shutdown inning!

    • therealjohnc - May 13, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      I had the same thought! We finally had a LH first baseman doubling as position player/pitcher … and it wasn’t ALR!

      Hey, even Adam Dunn got his shot, maybe ALR will get his in Chicago.

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