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Strasburg continues to dominate

Sep 20, 2015, 6:09 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Stephen Strasburg’s 2015 season has been a tale of the extremes. Early on he went through the worst stretch of his career and suffered several injuries along the way. But lately he has been at his very best, carving up opposing lineups with record-setting command of the strike zone.

Strasburg added 10 strikeouts in Sunday’s 13-3 win over the Marlins for his third straight double-digit strikeout game. He has 37 in total over his last three outings, a new Nationals team record in consecutive starts. During that stretch he has walked only three batters.

“It’s good, huh?,” manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg’s control.

“The key there is fastball command. When he was dealing with the issues and being uncomfortable out there, it wasn’t as easy for him to throw the ball where he wants to. But since he’s been back and healthy and feeling good, the curveball has been good and the changeup has been good. But it all starts with the fastball. He’s been able to control it both sides of the plate.”

Since returning from his latest stint on the disabled list on Aug. 8, Strasburg has a 2.24 ERA in eight starts. He has 72 strikeouts and six walks in 52 1/3 innings in those games.

Strasburg allowed two runs on Sunday, but was only charged with one as earned. That dropped his season ERA to 3.81, which is lower than Gio Gonzalez’ 3.83 mark. For Strasburg to get there after at one point having a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts this season is remarkable.

“I’ve been able to keep them off balance,” Strasburg said. “I’m just trying to keep it simple and trying to do what I’m capable of doing. That’s just going out there and executing pitches.”

Strasburg’s aggression has stood out since he came off the DL and particularly as of late. Williams said that is less about Strasburg’s gameplan and more about his ability to fire away without having to worry about an injury.

“I don’t think it’s mentality. I think it’s health,” Williams explained. “He feels good and when he feels good, you can see him running the ball in there at 98 miles per hour today. That’s pretty impressive. He’s able to reach back and be aggressive in that regard. When he wasn’t feeling well early and dealing with all the issues he dealt with, the ankle and the back. He was trying to feel the ball over the plate a little bit. Now that he’s healthy, I don’t see an issue with it.”

Tyler Moore, who played first base on Sunday, said Strasburg has been an important reason why the Nats are still able to cling to longshot playoff hopes.

“He’s been solid ever since coming back. He’s been a big thing for us,” Moore said. “He’s pounding the zone. He’s throwing strikes. When he does that, his stuff is kind of unhittable. It’s tough.”

Strasburg has perhaps epitomized the Nationals’ continued determination lately, despite their large deficit to make up in the NL East standings. Strasburg is still focusing on the little things and refusing to look back on his uneven start to the season, or forward to what could possibly happen if the Mets slip up and give them a chance.

“You just try and focus on the now. You can’t really worry about the past or the future. You just try and focus on each pitch one at a time and execute each one to the best of your ability,” he said.

  1. NatsLady - Sep 20, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    What I like most about Strasburg’s performance in this game (and other recent games) is that he doesn’t expect perfection. He went out there, pitched a solid but not “great” game, and left to a standing ovation. All in a day’s work. Accumulate enough of those, plus a few “great” games, and that’s a Cy Young season. That’s what Stras needs to do for 30-32 starts next season.

    Off topic: we can’t afford to lose the Roark start(s). I think Matt needs to get creative and have a bullpen-type game. Roark goes three innings, Ross a couple, maybe A.J. Cole, Taylor Jordan a couple, then to the regular reliever-types. Scoscia did that when Garrett Richards went down last year and it worked quite well.

    • soonernat - Sep 20, 2015 at 7:59 PM

      +1 on Stras…..and it will be interesting to see what we doing with our pitching going forward.

    • sec112 - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:09 PM

      Agree completely. Can’t be worried about nursing Roark through 5. In particular, it would be good to avoid him facing anyone with any power with more than a runner on, because he’s making mistake pitches and people aren’t missing them. Better to cobble something together. And it would be great to skip his start if possible.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:21 PM

      Looking forward to watching the game recording at some point tomorrow.

      Going forward, I’m not an armchair manager type, but a bullpen committee approach for Roark’s next start had occurred to me as well. (Sorry, Tanner, but it’s not your year.)

      • philipd763 - Sep 20, 2015 at 9:11 PM

        It’s not Tanner’s year because MW took a very succesful starting pitcher and tried to make a reliever out of him. Now he’s totally screwed up.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 20, 2015 at 9:59 PM

        I’m not sure that’s one you can blame on Matt Williams. The GM (and ownership) made the decision to sign Max Scherzer and keep everyone else, hence Tanner Roark’s reliever role.

      • hersheyman - Sep 20, 2015 at 11:15 PM

        One of several Rizzo mistakes this year.

    • Doc - Sep 20, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      Correctomunco, NL!

      It’s time for MW to get creative in a Scoscia kind of way!

    • NatsNut - Sep 21, 2015 at 8:26 AM

      NL, i know what u r saying but have you seen our bullpen lately? Cant trust them any more than Roark.

  2. Mike Gallagher - Sep 20, 2015 at 11:43 PM

    Could the Mets collapse again? How sweet it would be!

    • NatsNut - Sep 21, 2015 at 5:57 AM

      Mike, shhhhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet about this.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2015 at 7:36 AM

      Mum’s the word.





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