Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg Allows Seven Runs in 4 2/3 Innings Return to Hill

For the first time in over a year, Nationals star Stephen Strasburg took the mound into big league action. The result was an ugly line with some good points mixed in.

Over the course of four innings against the Marlins, the story went something like “Strasbourg is back, only a first misfortune messes up the stat line”. Things unfolded in the fifth, however. A quick breakdown:

  • In the first inning, Jazz Chisholm led with a bunt single. It was perfectly placed. It’s a credit to Chisholm, but it’s not really a negative for Strasburg either. After two eliminations, Strasburg was very close to a 3-2 count to get out of the inning. The call didn’t go his way and then two well-placed jabs that weren’t hit so well meant a 3-0 lead for the Marlins. Strasburg was so close to a zero on the scoreboard.
  • On the second entry, Strasburg started mixing up his change and things immediately clicked. He eliminated all three hitters he faced. We all miss seeing him make the hitters look so bad, don’t we?
  • In the third and fourth innings, he worked around one hit per pitch and walked to get six outs in seven hitters. It was strikeouts and poor contact (the most hit ball was an 88.4 mph flyout).
  • In the fifth inning, he would only get two outs – a hardline and a field assist. He coughed up two singles (one was another Chisholm bunt, just to be clear), two doubles, and a thunderous home run. Jesús Sánchez’s two-run shot knocked Strasburg out of the game.

The final line: 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

There were definitely positives. The change looked great, especially on the second inning. The curve looked sharp for the most part. Through four entries it was a very good ride. Just seeing him back in the mound after such a major surgery was an advantage in itself.

There were concerns too. Strasburg’s fastball was hit hard on a couple of occasions and only managed a swing-and-miss on 23 shots. He was just sitting 90 with it, coming in at 91.7. His sinker was also hit a few times and didn’t land a single swing-and-miss in 19 shots.

It was a mixed bag, shall we say, though honestly it leaned more for the bad than the good.

Strasburg played just two matches in 2020 due to nerve issues and then was dropped after five matches last season before needing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. It’s an injury – and subsequent surgery – that effectively ended or drastically altered a good number of pitching careers, so it’s always been a worrying situation around Strasburg.

Going into 2022, the 13th season of Strasburg’s MLB career, he is 113-61 with 3.21 ERA (128 ERA+), 1.09 WHIP and 1,718 strikeouts in 1,465 1/3 innings of the regular season. In nine playoff appearances, he is 6-2 with 1.46 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 71 strikeouts to just eight walks in 55 1/3 innings. Given that the Nationals won the 2019 World Series and he was the MVP, the Nats got more than their return on investment in the 2009 overall draft pick.

Moving forward, though, Strasburg is in the third year of a seven-year, $245 million deal. He is 33 years old. They are a non-playing club at the moment, but the hope of moving forward would be for Strasburg and Juan Soto to be the backbone of their next playoff caliber team.

Putting Strasburg back on the mound was a positive step in that direction. He will try to sort out the other things in the next few weeks.

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