WASHINGTON -- In his third start back from the disabled list, Stephen Strasburg showed the Nationals Park crowd that he's back to his old self, and then some.In Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Marlins, the 29-year-old right hander was the star of the afternoon on all fronts: He pitched a
WASHINGTON -- In his third start back from the disabled list, Stephen Strasburg showed the Nationals Park crowd that he's back to his old self, and then some.
In Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Marlins, the 29-year-old right hander was the star of the afternoon on all fronts: He pitched a shutout -- the second of his career -- and went 2-for-4 at the plate with a home run.
"It was his day today," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, simply.
The moment that crystalized Strasburg's stellar outing came in the fifth inning, when he ran into his first jam of the afternoon. J.T. Realmuto tripled to lead off the frame before Strasburg struck out consecutive hitters. The three-time All-Star intentionally walked the eighth batter, Miguel Rojas, to face opposing starter, Adam Conley, who flied out to left to end the threat.
And just as Strasburg thwarted Miami's rally, he started one moments later. He opened the bottom of the frame with a home run to right-center field, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead. According to Statcast™, the ball left with an exit velocity of 101 mph and traveled 409 feet. It was his second long ball of the season, and the third of his career.
"Oppo? Wow," Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton said. "I think that was impressive. I think that was special. As soon as I saw that, I said, 'This is going to be pretty good today.'"
Added Baker: "He ran into one. I think that's his second home run this year. I don't know how many he has in his career. Three? Well. that means he's getting better."
On the mound, Strasburg finished the day striking out eight hitters while yielding six hits and one walk on 110 pitches (78 strikes). He shut down a Marlins offense that had been red-hot of late and features the most-feared hitter in the game at the moment, Giancarlo Stanton.
"Take it one inning at a time," Strasburg said. "You can't sit here and after the first inning and think, 'I'm going to go nine today.' The game's way too hard. Just try and break up the game and take it one pitch at a time and go as long as you can until they take the ball out."
In his three starts since returning from the DL, Strasburg has shown why the Nats shouldn't take the ball away from him. He has looked just as he did before his DL stint, going 1-1 with an 0.86 ERA over 21 innings with a 23-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. On the year, Strasburg is 11-4 with a 2.90 ERA, good for fourth in the National League, behind teammates Max Scherzer and Giovany Gonzalez, as well as the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.
That bodes well for the Nationals, who are getting healthy for the stretch run leading into the postseason.
Daniel Shiferaw is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.