Sound the bells, Nationals fans! Stephen Strasburg is back, and all is well in Nats Kingdom! Unless you’re Brad Hand, that is. Then there’s some stuff to be concerned about.
The Nats took the first game of a 3 game interleague series with the Orioles, winning 4-2 off the backs of 12 hits that included clutch knocks from Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, and Juan Soto, as per usual. There was a bit of a scare when closer Brad Hand gave up a 9th-inning bomb to Freddy Galvis that closed the gap from 4-0 to 4-2, but the team was able to keep it at that.
Strasburg’s return to the rotation went pretty well, all things considered:
W (1-1), 5.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR, 4.11 ERA
The Bad News:
Strasburg, once again, was making grimace-like expressions between pitches. While I personally refuse to believe this is anything more than him exerting energy, there are some Nats fans who still feel like he could possibly injure himself again at any point during a start. So as much as I would like to relax when Stras is on the mound, the truth is, I just can’t.
Strasburg was also on a pitch limit, which explains his shortened outing of 72 pitches in 5.1 innings. All it took was a little bit of trouble in the fifth for him to be yanked, an inning that was successfully finished off by reliever Kyle Finnegan.
The Good News:
Quite literally, everything else. Even in a shortened outing that was his first in almost 2 months, Strasburg looked sharp, barely gave up anything, and his velocity looked very promising. Although I will concede he was a bit lucky to face the Orioles in his first time back on the mound, there wasn’t really a better team for him to get back into the groove against. 5 innings, a win, and 1 hit given up, a single by outfielder Anthony Santander in the 2nd inning. Strasburg is back, folks! Let’s just pray it stays like that.
The Nats continue the series tomorrow, when they play at 4:05 PM. Jon Lester takes the mound again in his first start since Wrigley, and the Nats will look to get closer to .500 again, take the series from the O’s, and keep the train rolling.