His last start against the Colorado Rockies proved that he still has the best stuff in baseball. Strasburg pitched 111 pitches through 7.1 innings, recorded eight strikeouts, five hits, just one walk, and one run on a solo home run. He is undoubtedly the strikeout king on the National League with 131 strikeouts in his 18 starts on the year. That’s an average of 7.3 strikeouts per game.
Strasburg ranks fifth in the majors in terms of strikeouts, but No. 1 in the National League.
Unfortunately for him, he just broke the .500 win barrier with his dominant performance over the Rockies the other night. He is now 7-6 on the season with an earned run average of 3.53. That is the highest ERA of his five-year career.
Why has this season been so difficult for the Nationals’ ace?
Putting Strasburg’s career into perspective, this is only the third potentially full season that the pitcher is playing. His first two years in the majors were plagued with an extreme pitch count watch and an injury leading to Tommy John surgery. All things considered, he is on pace to start more than 30 games for the first time in his career. It is as though the pitcher is a rookie all over again.
The Nationals’ pitching staff is ranked No. 1 in the majors in terms of ERA. Strasburg has support in the rest of the bullpen. Manager Matt Williams has to let their No. 1 draft pick find his rhythm.
This season, Strasburg is already averaging more pitches per game than any other time in his career. It may take some time for him to settle into things, but while he finds his groove, there is no doubt that he can continue striking batters out and winning if his offense supports him.
The key to Strasburg’s return to glory is simple. Let the man pitch in games he appears comfortable. He is 5-2 on the year in games with 100 pitches or more.
Strasburg is capable of carrying the team deep into a game and the Nationals would be wise to let their ace do what he does best — pitch.