Washington Nationals Reaction: Stephen Strasburg Once Again Shows Dominance And Growth

Apr 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws to the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws to the Atlanta Braves during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Stephen Strasburg had an outstanding outing Thursday afternoon as the Washington Nationals topped the Atlanta Braves 6-2 at Nationals Park. 

Late Wednesday afternoon, Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his schedule start due to illness. Strasburg, who has always seemed to get bit by the injury bug, once again had to battle through another trial. Luckily for the Nationals, Strasburg was ready to go today, and it showed in his outing in which he gave up two earned runs over 7.2 innings.

Since entering the MLB in 2010 Stephen Strasburg has had to deal with adversity in his career. Through having Tommy John during his rookie year, and many injuries that have taken away from how good of a pitcher he has truly been, things have not always come easy for the San Diego State product. This afternoon was a perfect example of how the Nationals starter continues to mature on the field and learn how to become a better pitcher in every facet of the game.

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The afternoon did not start off great for Strasburg, as he showed some rust. This may have been related to being sick the day before, but the 27-year-old had to battle from the get go. He walked Braves leadoff hitter Mallex Smith, and then went 2-0 to the next hitter Nick Markakis.

In previous seasons at times Strasburg would be flustered by a poor start. One thing would go wrong and the wheels would come completely off. Today this was not the case. The big right-hhander bared down and got out of the first inning unscathed and he continued to show his maturity and growth as a pitcher in his seventh season in the MLB.

At the beginning of the game, Strasburg did not have great command of his fastball. He was flying open and leaving the ball up and in to righties and away from lefties. With two walks in the first four batters, Strasburg had to make an adjustment. The best pitchers in the game, even if they are not completely on, are able to make in game adjustments and today he did an outstanding job of this.

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In the second inning, he regained command of his fastball and complimented it with his new devastating slider. For the past two springs, Strasburg had been working on this pitch in spring training. This year, it looks like it can be a weapon that will only make him more dangerous.

In the third, the Nationals’ right hander ran into some trouble after a Markakis RBI single gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead. Again Strasburg was staring adversity in the face, and once again he showed he is not the same pitcher he was a few years ago. He bared down and retired 13 out of the next 14 batters, pitching to contact and keeping his pitch count down. Keeping his number of pitches down is something else that at times has plagued Strasburg over the years, but today he had a very efficient 100 pitches in his outing

Although it was not a shutout, Strasburg had one of his most impressive starts in recent memory today. He did not have double digit strikeouts and did not go a complete game, but he showed his experience. Every time he was faced with trouble, he buckled down and got himself out of it. Although his fastball command was not stellar, the velocity was great sitting 94-98 mph the whole game.

Next: Recap: Harper, Strasburg Help Nats Sweep Braves

In a contract season, there will be more pressure than ever on Strasburg to perform. Through his first two starts of the season, he appears ready to have a breakout year. Strasburg improved his record to 2-0 on the young season and has a very impressive ERA of 1.96. He also has gone deep into games in his first two starts, which is something the Nationals will need from him the season.

The help of new pitching coach Mike Maddux seems to have helped him become even more dangerous and he’s in control on the mound as he has ever been. If Strasburg continues to show this kind of resilience and growth in his starts, the Nationals will be a tough team to beat with him on the hill.