After short outing, Nationals “might” consider delaying Strasburg’s shutdown

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg lasted three innings in a no-decision Friday against the Marlins, giving up five runs on two doubles and two home runs, matching the shortest outing of his career.

The Marlins eventually outlasted the Nationals 9-7 in 10 innings.

It was the third time in his career he pitched only three innings, and the second time this season, equaling the three innings he pitched in a 7-5 loss in sweltering 104-degree heat at Atlanta on June 30.

But manager Davey Johnson believed Friday’s short outing was more about the mental focus for Strasburg, as he realizes he is now down to one more start for the season.

“To be honest with you, I think he was thinking too much about the decision of (when) we were going to shut him down,” Johnson said. “He kind of wore it and didn’t like it. But that is the way it is.

“I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as much as the impending shutdown. I haven’t talked to him. I can understand where he is at. Even in the conversations I have had with him, he was having trouble sleeping thinking about letting the guys down.”

Johnson was asked if the short outing by Strasburg Friday might affect Wednesday’s game at the New York Mets in what was supposed to be his last game.

“It might,” Johnson said.

strasburg sunset throwing sidebar.jpgBut Strasburg said that the looming shutdown date is not concerning him and he is not losing focus.

“No, I just don’t think I pitched well,” Strasburg said. “I think as a professional you want to go out there and give it everything you have every single time out. That is what I wanted to go out there and do. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.”

He also does not believe he has been inconsistent the last few starts, despite giving up 10 earned runs to the Marlins in his last eight innings against them.

“I feel like it has been pretty good (season),” Strasburg said. “It is a couple bad starts. But I will take a couple bad starts over the course of a year any day.”

Strasburg said he will not push to get an extra start after Sept. 12 because of Friday’s short outing.

“No, I am going to focus on the next start,” he said.

And that supposed last start arrives Wednesday. But based on Johnson’s comments, it seems there now may be a better chance Strasburg could get one more shot to pitch at home, possibly against the Dodgers Sept. 18, 19 or 20.

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