After entering the All-Star break a game above .500 and in second place in the NL East, the Nationals have now dropped to third in the NL East behind the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, and four game below .500. Forget about the playoff chase — the Nationals can’t even win a game after dropping the past five.
If there is a pitcher that can help bring them out of this haze and deliver a much-needed win, it’s the steady arm of Stephen Strasburg. While the 5-7 win-loss column doesn’t say “ace”, he has a 2.97 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 115 strikeouts. His awkward win-loss record can be credited mostly to a lack of run support.
But today, when Strasburg heads to the mound to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Nationals stand a pretty good chance at picking up a win, provided they can at least put two runs on the board. Strasburg has fared well when pitching against the Buccos.
In his two career starts against the Pirates, Strasburg is 2-0, including his stellar MLB debut in 2010 when he struck out 14 over seven innings. In total, he’s struck out the Pirates a combined 25 times and has held them to a batting average of just .210. He’s given up just 13 hits, including two doubles and two home runs.
The Nationals need a stellar start from their ace. It’s obvious that the team is lost from plate after a dismal three-hit effort last night. Strasburg needs to enter today’s start with a mindset that he can’t give up a run or else that will spell trouble. Washington has been able to rely on Strasburg to stop a losing streak before. Multiple times last season, the ace came in and ended a four or five-game losing streak with a quality start.
While Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann have better numbers this season, there is no doubt that Strasburg is still the man in the starting rotation. If there’s one guy that Davey Johnson wants on the mound when a win is needed, it’s Stephen Strasburg.