WASHINGTON -- This past season was perhaps the most successful season of Stephen Strasburg's career, a year where he made the NL All-Star team, finished a career-best third in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award and delivered a career-defining performance during Game 4 of the NL Division
WASHINGTON -- This past season was perhaps the most successful season of Stephen Strasburg's career, a year where he made the NL All-Star team, finished a career-best third in the voting for the National League Cy Young Award and delivered a career-defining performance during Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Cubs.
Yet, even after finishing the season on the best roll of his career, Strasburg is already considering what he can accomplish in 2018.
"I think it just opened my eyes into, like, putting too many limits on myself," he said. "I think physically, there was that little spot around the All-Star Game, but I'm glad with how I bounced back. I think I progressed a little bit in that department with how my body works and what I need to do.
"I think I'm not satisfied by any means, but I think there's more in the tank. So I'm excited. I was excited to get back to work as soon as the season was over, to keep trying to get better, keep getting stronger, and get out there next season."
At the start of last season, staying healthy was one of Strasburg's primary goals. He accomplished that by making a few adjustments to his routine. He overhauled his offseason workout routine to spend more time running. He began pitching from the stretch. He cut down on the number of sliders he threw during the season.
Strasburg was happy at the results of each adjustment, which allowed him to make 28 starts this year, his most since 2014. He was healthy aside from a brief stint on the disabled list during the middle of the season, after his routine was thrown off during the All-Star break. He said he would have to re-evaluate his program during the break in the future because those few days ultimately disrupted his season.
"I just know that little lapse, for whatever reason, it pushed me back a bit," Strasburg said. "It started making my arm hurt. My arm felt good before that, then it was after that, it just didn't feel right. I'm glad at that point I kind of tried to put my pride aside and say, 'Hey, I want to be there in the end."'
And of course Strasburg was there in the end and at his best. His second-half ERA of 0.86 was the best in the Majors. Then, he made two starts in the NLDS and did not allow an earned run in either of them, including his gem in Game 4 where he threw seven shutout innings with 12 strikeouts against Chicago to stave off elimination for Washington.
"A long time ago, I tried to focus on attainable goals that I can control and that I can focus on, so I'm going to continue to do that," Strasburg said. "I think the ultimate goal for me is not the Cy Youngs, but it's the World Series. I think that just comes from playing a team sport. That's what just gets me going, gets me excited, is coming together as a team and accomplishing something great."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.