Stephen Strasburg dominates in surprise start
When Game 4 was postponed on Tuesday, everyone assumed that Stephen Strasburg would get the nod on normal rest over original starter Tanner Roark. However, Dusty Baker and the Nationals announced that Roark would remain the Game 4 starter.
Strasburg was battling flu-like symptoms and would not pitch until the potential Game 5. This led to a media circus, with Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post calling Strasburg a “finicky diva”. Former Cub and current ESPN analyst David Ross also said that if he were Strasburg’s teammate, he would not be able to look him in the eye.
After much criticism and additional medication, Strasburg informed the team that he could, indeed, start Game 4. Controversially, he got the nod, but it turned out to work better than anyone could have expected.
Strasburg was admittedly pitching at less than full strength, but earned himself and the Nats a victory with utter dominance.
When all was said and done, Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings, racking up 12 strikeouts, and limiting the Cubs to just three hits. A large part of Strasburg’s success came thanks to his change-up, which was filthier than the team hotel.
Of Strasburg’s 12 strikeouts, eight of them came on change-ups. He had great command of his fastball, change-up, and curveball, keeping the Cubs’ offense guessing all night. He finished the regular season as one of the best pitchers in the league, but this was possibly the best he’s ever been, especially considering the circumstances.
Strasburg was not named the Game 4 starter until just a few hours before first pitch, but he pitched as if he had been preparing for the game his whole life. Thanks to Strasburg’s dominance, the Nats were able to force a Game 5.