Washington Nationals Editorial: Stephen Strasburg Ending 2015 On A Good Note


All season long, Washington Nationals fans were wondering when they would see the dominant Stephen Strasburg. It’s been a tough season for Strasburg, whether it was the ankle injury he had during spring training, a left oblique injury in July, or constant struggles with tightness in his back. Last night, Strasburg had his best start of his career in a win over the Phillies.

Yes, it was a Phillies’ lineup that isn’t murderers’ row by any means, but Strasburg had his fastball working all night. He went eight innings, gave up one hit (Cody Asche single in the fifth), struck out 14 batters (tied for a career-high) and walked one. Since his return to the rotation from that left oblique injury, he has struck out 12 or more batters on three different occasions.

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Last night, Strasburg pounded the strike zone as 77 of his 105 pitches went for strikes. As was evident by his struggles against the Marlins a couple of starts ago, it all starts with the velocity on the fastball for Strasburg. According to Brooks Baseball, Strasburg’s averaged out at 96 miles per hour and his max fastball was close to 98 miles per hour. Out of the 63 fastballs he threw, 48 of them went for strikes.

Since the All-Star Break, Strasburg is 4-2 in seven starts with a 2.38 ERA. The stats that are most impressive about this stretch is that he has an opponents’ batting average against of .169 and has struck out 62 batters to just five walks. Even in an injury-plagued season, Strasburg has 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings, which is the third highest of his career (12.2 in 2010 and 11.1 in 2012).

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network wrote in his column about how the Nats did talk about a trade involving Strasburg with the Texas Rangers, but nothing materialized:

"“The talks were wide-ranging, involving a number of names, sources said. The Rangers also had interest in outfielder Steven Souza, who later went to the Rays in a deal that brought the Nats righty Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner. The Nats, meanwhile, had interest in shortstop Jurickson Profar, who at the time was expected to return from a torn muscle in his right shoulder.” (h/t Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports)"

Profar has battled numerous injuries over his career as well and the Nats ended up getting Turner anyway, who figures to be in team’s plans at shortstop for next season, if Ian Desmond leaves via free agency. However, with the offseason looming, should the Nats still look to deal Strasburg with their crop of young pitchers on the way up such as Ross and Lucas Giolito or should they look to extend the contract of the pitcher they took with the first pick in 2009?

With one year left on his contract after this season, Strasburg is building his value back up with his strong second half, but with Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister expected to leave in free agency, one of the goals the Nats should have this winter is to extend Strasburg’s contract. Strasburg’s value won’t be high enough as a team will look for a player with more years of control left. The problem is you don’t usually see Scott Boras clients sign extensions before they hit their free agent year.

While it remains to be seen what Strasburg’s future is in DC, the potential of having a dominant one-two combination of Max Scherzer and Strasburg next year could be one of the keys to a successful season in 2016. The question now is whether Strasburg can stay on the field and make his 30 starts:

Next: Rapid Reaction: Nats Number One Picks Do It All In Win Over Phillies

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