Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg leads the way with gem

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 30: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the third inning during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 30, 2017 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 30: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the third inning during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 30, 2017 in Washington,DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg had one of the best individual performances of the season this week, leading to him being named District on Deck’s player of the week.

Since being drafted first overall in 2009, all eyes have been on Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg. He was an undisputed first overall draft pick and quickly became a top prospect.

After rapidly progressing through the minor leagues, Strasburg wasted no time making a name for himself in the majors, striking out 14 Pirates in his debut. Then the injuries hit.

After several minor injuries in 2010, Strasburg tore his UCL, requiring Tommy John surgery. This forced him to miss the rest of 2010 and most of 2011, but he returned with a vengeance. He was among the league’s top starters in 2012, but then the Nats shut him down shortly before the playoffs due to his innings limit from his Tommy John surgery. To make matters worse, this was the Nats’ first playoff appearance since returning to DC.

The shutdown was extremely controversial, but the Nats knew they’d be back in the playoffs and viewed Strasburg as a long-term contributor. They were right; five years later, they’re still among the top teams in the league and Strasburg is a key contributor.

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When healthy, Strasburg is an elite starting pitcher and has the potential to dominate every fifth day. This was the case on Wednesday against the Marlins.

Wednesday was his third start back from a right elbow nerve impingement, and it was by far his best. As a matter of fact, it will most likely go down as one of the best individual performances of the season.

The Marlins came into the series as one of the hottest teams in the league, so Strasburg faced a fairly tall task. He took this assignment and ran with it, throwing a complete game shutout and only allowing six hits.

Not even Giancarlo Stanton could manage to hit Strasburg. Stanton had one of the best months in MLB history, and crushed anything in sight for most of August. However, he went 0-for-4 on Wednesday and looked lost at the plate.

On top of his sterling performance on the mound, Strasburg had quite the day at the plate. He went 2-for-4 with a go-ahead opposite field homer. To make this even more impressive, he almost went 4-for-4, but was robbed of a couple hits.

With his unbelievable game, Strasburg became the first pitcher to hit a go-ahead homer in a complete game shutout since Clayton Kershaw did it in 2013.

Although Strasburg did not qualify for most offensive stats this week, his performance led to an extremely unique stat. Despite playing just one game, he led the Nats in homers. With one homer, he was tied for the team lead with Wilmer Difo, Adam Lind, and Jayson Werth. That’s not too shabby for a pitcher.

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After missing nearly a month, Strasburg is finally back and dominating. The Nats need him to remain healthy and lead them on a deep postseason run. Between him, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark, the Nats will be tough to beat in a postseason series. If Strasburg is healthy, he is among the best pitchers in the league and is capable of putting the team on his back at any time, as we all saw and admired on Wednesday.

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