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Strasburg sharp in two-inning spring debut

Pitching only out of stretch, Nats righty allows one hit and whiffs three
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg began working on pitching exclusively out of the stretch this winter. He had seen pitchers such as the Cubs' Jake Arrieta, the Rangers' Yu Darvish and the Indians' Carlos Carrasco have success without throwing from the windup. Besides, Strasburg was able to keep up the same movement and velocity from the stretch, so he figured he'd give it a chance, especially if it was going to be easier to repeat his delivery than it would be from the windup.

Strasburg pitched entirely out of the stretch during his Grapefruit League debut in Friday afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings, and it was deemed a success. He needed just 23 pitches to complete two scoreless innings. He struck out three and erased the only hit he allowed by inducing a double play.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg began working on pitching exclusively out of the stretch this winter. He had seen pitchers such as the Cubs' Jake Arrieta, the Rangers' Yu Darvish and the Indians' Carlos Carrasco have success without throwing from the windup. Besides, Strasburg was able to keep up the same movement and velocity from the stretch, so he figured he'd give it a chance, especially if it was going to be easier to repeat his delivery than it would be from the windup.

Strasburg pitched entirely out of the stretch during his Grapefruit League debut in Friday afternoon's 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in 10 innings, and it was deemed a success. He needed just 23 pitches to complete two scoreless innings. He struck out three and erased the only hit he allowed by inducing a double play.

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"I'm not trying to reinvent myself, but trying to simplify things as much as I can and be able to repeat my mechanics," Strasburg said.

Video: STL@WSH: Strasburg discusses outing against Cardinals

The Nationals had eased Strasburg into his first Grapefruit League start, waiting nearly a week after games began. He is no longer feeling any effects from the torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season, but the club saw no need to rush him with an extra week of Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic. The Nats have also hinted at some changes for Strasburg this spring, in an effort to get him through a full season healthy for only the second time.

Before the game, Nationals manager Dusty Baker said quite a bit of the team's success will rely on Strasburg's health. Perhaps that is even more true while Max Scherzer is still dealing with the aftermath of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

Strasburg figured he was not gaining any extra benefit from the windup, but it was just tougher on his body to keep his mechanics in order. He brought the idea to pitching coach Mike Maddux, who was Darvish's pitching coach in Texas, and Maddux was supportive in trying it.

"If Mike don't have a problem with it, I don't have a problem with it," Baker said. "As long as [Strasburg] felt comfortable and as long as he was throwing strikes. It looks like it didn't change his velocity and his location was actually better. He had excellent location out of the stretch.

"You know guys are always trying to improve and trying to reinvent themselves. Perhaps he'll even be better than he already is."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg