MIAMI - You just had a feeling Stephen Strasburg might have something special stored up for the Nationals' final game of the season. The great athletes always seem to know when to shift to a higher gear, and while Strasburg hasn't played long enough to put himself in that pantheon yet, he's certainly got a sense of the moment.
And when Marlins fans file out of Sun Life Stadium for the last time today, chances are they'll be talking about Strasburg.
He has seven strikeouts in four innings, his most since returning from Tommy John surgery. Riding a fastball that averaged 96.9 mph during the fourth inning, Strasburg has thrown 58 pitches so far. He hasn't given up a run, and the Nationals just took the lead on Ian Desmond's RBI single. They are up 2-0 on the Marlins after four.
Strasburg will likely get one more inning to put himself in line for the win, and it seems likely the Nationals will pull him after that, unless he has a quick fifth inning. But he hasn't had this kind of strikeout stuff since before he had surgery, and the Nationals will have plenty of reasons to feel good about the progress he's made on his way back from Tommy John surgery this season.
It's likely that the next time the Nationals play a meaningful game, Strasburg will also be on the mound. For now, he'll try to finish his 2011 season with a victory.