There are both positives and negatives that can be taken out of this afternoon’s rained-out series finale between the Nationals and Marlins.
First, the pluses.
Ryan Zimmerman was scheduled to get today off to give his inflamed right shoulder a chance to rest. Now, he’ll get that break without needing to miss an additional game.
The rainout means Zimmerman will go into Tuesday’s series opener in San Diego on three days of rest and having only been out of the Nats’ lineup once.
Additionally, the Nationals bullpen will get an extra breather after a homestand which saw them play in four extra-inning games and work a ton of pressure-packed innings. There have been very few chances for the Nats’ relievers to relax in this span of 15 games in 15 days, but they’ll head into the Padres series rested and fresh.
The downside to today’s postponement is that, barring a change, we’ll miss out on the superstar match-up of Stephen Strasburg and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, which was originally set to come Friday in Los Angeles.
Strasburg has a 1.08 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25 innings so far this season, and Kershaw has been nearly as impressive, posting a 1.61 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.
Instead, with the Nationals keeping their rotation order as is, it will be Ross Detwiler that will oppose Kershaw on Friday. That’s still not awful, considering Detwiler’s stat line (0.56 ERA and 15 Ks in 16 innings) this year.
Speaking of Strasburg, the righty seems to feel that one major factor in his strong start to the season has been his curveball, which is much improved in recent starts.
In Strasburg’s second outing of the year, which came up in New York against the Mets, he made an adjustment to the curve and has seen the results since then.
“I think a light bulb went off in that outing,” Strasburg said. “There’s kind of a few key things I used to do before I got hurt, and it’s starting to come back to me.”
Yesterday, 24 of Strasburg’s 96 pitches (25 percent) were curveballs, and five of his six strikeouts came on the curve. That’s something that was noticed by Zimmerman, who watched Strasburg work from the dugout.
“Obviously, he’s got dominant stuff, but I think what’s overlooked is how much he’s learned in a year,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of teams are going to jump on his fastball, especially a team like that, that’s a very aggressive team that can hit a fastball. Obviously, he threw more curveballs today, more offspeed stuff today than I think he ever has, and he was throwing it for strikes.
“It’s amazing how quickly he adapts and learns from not really his mistakes, but just what other teams have done to him. When you have that kind of stuff and that kind of mental approach to the game, it’s a pretty deadly combo.”