Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg takes a huge step forward

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 27, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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After a fairly iffy outing last time, Stephen Strasburg was able to make huge progress and guided the Washington Nationals to a 5-2 victory on Monday.

Stephen Strasburg didn’t look his sharpest when he took the mound last Wednesday. The Washington Nationals starter could only make it through four innings with declining velocity before he was pulled.

This time, however, he went six strong innings on 99 pitches and his velocity was sitting between 93 and 95 all night. That’s not quite where he wants to be yet, but it was a big step in the right direction.

His curveball was on point all game and made up the somewhat lackluster fastball. His threw it 15 times, 10 of which went for strikes, including two called strikeouts in the fifth.

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With the season lost, the team should still be cautious with Strasburg given his extensive injury history. However, with an outing like this where his velocity didn’t really dip like it did on Wednesday, he should be fine going forward.

One option could be to go with a six-man rotation down the stretch, with the like of Joe Ross and Erick Fedde set to return. That would help the Nationals ease the burden on their starters, while also getting a look at those young arms ahead of the 2019 season.

Soto stars with the bat again

Whether Juan Soto should get a day off is a big debate among Nats fans right now, he continues to deliver with the bat. On Saturday, he went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk.

However, he did strike out twice on the night and both times were looking. The Ks have been a worrying trend for the youngster since the All-Star Game as pitchers continue to adapt to him.

He’s 17th in the NL in strikeouts since the break and only trails Bryce Harper for the team lead in that time. A mental day off would do him good, perhaps on Wednesday just to reset and hopefully help him finish the season strong.

Wieters enhancing his trade stock

Matt Wieters also made an impression with the bat. He got the Nationals on the board in the second inning with a long ball for his sixth homer of the season. This is particularly noteworthy as Wieters is hitting extremely well since the All-Star break and could be a trade candidate.

Since the break, he’s hitting .271 with three homers, 14 RBI, and a .750 OPS. Not outstanding, but also well above average for a catcher, especially one who’s good with the glove behind the plate.

Wieters cleared waivers earlier this month and is free to be traded to anyone. Teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are still ailing at the catcher and could make a move to get him for peanuts. They have three days left if they want him to be eligible for the playoffs.

Next. Ten possible 2B candidates next season. dark

We get a repeat of last Wednesday’s pitching masterclass when Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola square off again. We’re in for a treat if it’s anything close to the last matchup that ended 2-0 in favor of Nola.

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