The Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings in return for Mound

For the first time in more than a year, Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg took the mound in big league action. The result was an ugly line with some positive qualities.

During the four innings against the Marlins, the story went something like “Strasbourg is back, just an unlucky guy first muddies the stat line.” However, things unraveled in the fifth. A quick breakdown:

  • In the first inning, Jazz led Chisholm off with a colorful single. It was placed perfectly. That’s a credit to Chisholm, but not really a bad thing for Strasburg either. After two groundouts, Strasburg came very close to going out of the inning with a 3-2 count. The call didn’t go his way and then two well-placed hits that weren’t hit that well gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead. Strasbourg was so close to a zero on the scoreboard.
  • In the second inning, Strasburg started his substitution and it clicked immediately. He knocked out all three thugs he faced. We all missed seeing him make hitters look so bad, didn’t we?
  • In the third and fourth innings, he worked around a hit-by-pitch and footed for six outs in seven hitters. It was strikeouts and weak contact (the hardest hit ball was an 88.4 mph flyout).
  • In the fifth inning he only got two outs – a hard lineout and an outfield assist. He would cough up two singles (one was another Chisholm Bunt, just to be clear), two doubles and a booming home run. Jesús Sánchez’s double shot drove Strasburg out of the game.

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

There were definitely positives. The change looked great, especially in the second inning. The curve looked sharp for the most part. Through four innings, it was a damn good outing. To see him back on the mound after such a major operation was a plus in itself.

There were also concerns. Strasburg’s fastball was occasionally hit hard, drawing only a 23-pitch swing-and-miss. He only sat 90 with it and peaked at 91.7. His sinker was also hit a few times and didn’t get a single swing and miss in 19 pitches.

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

Strasburg only started twice in 2020 due to nerve problems and then closed after five starts last season before requiring surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. It’s an injury – and the surgery that followed – that effectively ended or dramatically altered a whole host of pitching careers, so it’s always been a worrying situation around Strasburg.

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

Going forward, however, Strasburg is in the third year of a seven-year, $245 million deal. He is 33 years old. They’re an uncompetitive ball club at the moment, but the hope for the future would be Strasburg and Juan Soto being the backbone of their next playoff-caliber team.

Getting Strasburg back on the hill was a positive step in that direction. He will try to get the other things done in the coming weeks.

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