Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Stephen Strasburg Shines, Tanner Roark Flounders

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Jun 28, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) reacts after allowing a home run during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Stephen Strasburg Back to Old Self

There was a lot of concern surrounding Stephen Strasburg and his early season results. He had looked nothing like he had in years prior. His ERA was an unsightly 6.55, and his strikeouts-per-nine innings was on pace to be at or near his career low. Nothing had looked right since spring training, when a tweaked ankle had forced Strasburg to miss one start and set about a chain reaction in Strasburg’s mechanics that eventually landed him on the DL.

But since returning from his neck injury, Strasburg has looked like his old self. In his last start, he pitched through five innings without allowing a run. On Sunday, he was just as brilliant, hurling seven innings while only surrendering two runs and amassing nine strikeouts. In his his last two starts, Strasburg has been nothing short of spectacular. His ERA is 1.50, and his 15 strikeouts put him on pace for a K/9 ratio of 11.25.

Across those two starts, Strasburg has also allowed only two walks over twelve innings of work, another key to his continued success. It’s long been documented that Strasburg isn’t the most calm under pressure. His ability to avoid the free pass will only serve to increase his odds of long term success.

Apart from Strasburg, there were two other bright spots in the Nationals lineup in the persons of Bryce Harper and Denard Span. After trotting out a suspect lineup on Saturday before the postponement, the Nats looked more whole in Sunday’s first game. While neither Harper nor Span played in the second game, having two of its more prominent veterans in the lineup for at least one of the games was a huge boost to the Nationals offense. It remains to be seen if there’s any lingering soreness in Span’s back and Harper’s hamstring, but their appearance Sunday points to them being ready to get back to playing full-time.

Next: Tanner Roark's Terrible Return