Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Stephen Strasburg Key to Struggling Nats Success?


The Washington Nationals (57-52) beat the Colorado Rockies (46-62) 6-1 Saturday night behind seven strong innings from Stephen Strasburg in his first start since July 4th against the Giants. Coming off a left oblique strain, nobody was sure what to expect with how streakily he has performed all season when he’s been healthy.

However, Strasburg did put his critics to rest for one night by giving up only one run on three hits, no walks, and twelve strikeouts over seven innings of work. It was his best outing of the year as Strasburg looked calm and in control out on the mound. Plus, he had a great game at the plate as he went 3-for-3 (three singles) and picked up his first hits of the season.

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While Strasburg sat on the disabled list, the Nats limped to an 11-16 record, which was third worst in the National League. Although many fingers can be pointed at the offense that only scored 94 runs in that span (second worst in the NL) and a bullpen that has struggled all season, the rotation has been far from perfect.

Replacement Joe Ross has filled in phenomenally, but the rest of the staff has been inconsistent and unreliable. Ace Max Scherzer has fallen off slightly since the All-Star Break, knocking him out of the Cy Young conversation for the time being. Jordan Zimmermann has been up and down, alternating between dominant starts and getting shelled. Doug Fister returned from injury but has not been able to rediscover his success from last year, which forcedMatt Williams to relegate him to the bullpen in favor of Ross. Finally, Gio Gonzalez has been decent, but still sits with an average 3.75 ERA. While Strasburg still owns a horrible 4.76 ERA on the year, there were many positive signs in his outing Saturday night.

Strasburg was missing bats all night, earning 12 Colorado strikeouts in addition to walking nobody. His fastball touched 97 mph consistently, and his curveball looked untouchable. He worked around a leadoff double by Charlie Blackmon in the first inning with ease, looking much more comfortable out of the stretch than he usually does.

Aside from another double by Blackmon in the third and the solo home run off the bat of Nolan Arenado in the fourth, no other Rockies reached base. He retired the last 11 batters he faced, and finished seven strong innings with only 91 pitches. The Nationals now sit only 1.5 games back of the New York Mets, and with 53 games left to be played, the NL East is still up for grabs. With Stephen Strasburg back on the mound, the Nats just got that much better, and may now be able to feed off this win and make a run at the postseason.

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Next: Strasburg Shines In Nats 6-1 Win Over Rockies