Oct 1, 2015, 9:57 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: There’s nothing left to play for on the team level, so attention shifts to individual performance during the season’s final week. And there has been no better individual performing better for the Nationals down the stretch than Stephen Strasburg.
Distancing himself even further from his disastrous first half of the season, Strasburg finished up 2015 on a decided high note, shutting out the Braves over six innings. He scattered six singles and a walk, struck out seven and left a very good taste in everyone’s mouths as his roller coaster 2015 came to an end.
Clint Robinson got the Nationals on the board with an opposite-field homer in the top of the second. They then added two insurance runs in the eighth, with Bryce Harper notching his 97th RBI of the season. (Harper went 1-for-4 to maintain a .331 batting average, two points better than Miami’s Dee Gordon, who went 0-for-4.)
Blake Treinen tossed a scoreless seventh, then Felipe Rivero tossed both the eighth and the ninth to notch his first career save and notch the Nationals’ 81st win of the season.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: For a guy who was never expected to make the roster out of spring training, Robinson sure turned into a valuable piece for the Nationals. He began as a left-handed bat off the bench, but when Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth went down with injuries, the 30-year-old rookie wound up getting significant playing time. And he made the most of it. With his solo homer in the second inning, Robinson raised his batting average to .271 with a .361 on-base percentage and .410 slugging percentage. He’s got nine homers and 33 RBI over 337 plate appearances. For a part-time player, that’s not bad at all.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Boy, July feels like an awfully long time for Strasburg, doesn’t it? Ten starts into his season, he was 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA and all sorts of questions from outside observers about the state of his career. Turns out Strasburg’s problems were entirely physical, from an ankle injury in spring training to lingering neck issues to a strained oblique suffered on July 4. Over his final 13 starts, Strasburg went 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA and a staggering 110-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Put that all together, and he ends up 11-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 23 starts, with 155 strikeouts and only 26 walks. All things considered, that was a very good season for Strasburg. And a very encouraging sign for the Nationals heading into 2016.
KEY STAT: By beating out a potential inning-ending double play grounder in the eighth, Bryce Harper notched his 97th RBI, fifth-most in the NL.
UP NEXT: It had the potential to be a huge series to end the regular season. Instead, the Nationals and Mets will play out the string this weekend at Citi Field, beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.93) faces Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.34).
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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