Stephen Strasburg has thrown more pitches tonight than he has in any of his first three starts back from Tommy John surgery. The problem is, he's done that in just three innings. And after those three innings, the Nationals trail the Braves 3-1.
Strasburg threw 38 pitches in a laborious first inning, reaching for the rosin bag on numerous occasions and flexing his hand between pitches. He left his fastball up in the strike zone, and gave up four hits before Ryan Zimmerman's fielding error helped the Braves score their third run.
He needed just 11 pitches in the second inning and 13 in the third, and it's likely he'll get at least one more inning if things go well. But Strasburg's night illustrates one of the problems pitchers have when returning from Tommy John surgery: it takes them time to find consistency. He's at least got one more start this year, coming in Wednesday's season finale in Florida, to finish on a better note.