Strasburg wants to better execute his pitches

MIAMI - Stephen Strasburg did not feel like he had his best stuff on Sunday.

Pretty scary notion for the rest of the National League, because the right-hander still went out and delivered five scoreless innings in a 5-2 Nationals win over the Marlins.

Strasburg surrendered only three hits, all singles, and did not allow the Marlins past second base.

Strasburg-Delivers-Red-Sidebar.jpgHe walked two and struck out eight. His first three strikeouts were with the changeup, two from the curveball, and three from his four-seam fastball. He credited catcher Pedro Severino with keeping the Fish off balance.

"I feel like I was able to make good pitches when I needed to," Strasburg noted. "There was definitely some times where I guess it looked like it was an executed pitch but I think it was, at the same time, I don't feel like I was executing well enough."

"There was a lot of times and situations where I wanted to throw a put away pitch and it was left in the zone and they were fouling it off. And I think that's where Sevy calling a great game with the selection aspect, that they weren't really on the pitch but I think from my end I think I need to do a little better job of putting the ball down and out of the zone in those situations."

Manager Davey Martinez decided to pull Strasburg after five innings with his pitch count at 103. The Marlins had built up heavy counts against Strasburg most of the day, and Martinez knew his right-hander was coming off of starts in which he fired 109, 106 and 115 pitches.

"He gave it his all," Martinez said. "Five innings, he's got 103 pitches. I thought that was good enough. We had the lead. I felt confident with the guys we had in the bullpen. We just kind of let it ride at that point."

One of the biggest at-bats in the game was in the bottom of the fifth when Strasburg squared off against Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro. Earlier, Castro had been struck out on the changeup and curveball. Strasburg had walked J.T. Realmuto with two away and the Nats leading 2-0. Strasburg was able to Castro on a knee-buckling 97mph fastball on the outside edge for a called third strike.

"Yeah, I mean, it was a grind," Strasburg said. "I didn't like the way I attacked Realmuto. I think I was kind of in-between on some pitches and trying to be a little too aggressive, trying to make the perfect pitch and you end up just throwing non-competitive pitches so I was a little frustrated with that. But you get in those situations sometimes and you just kind of have to get back into it and just go mano y mano."

Strasburg (6-4) has won seven straight decisions against the Marlins, posting an impressive 1.13 ERA against the divisional opponent. He has racked up 23 consecutive scoreless frames against Miami dating back to April 3, 2017. Sunday, though, he felt somewhat fortunate to get out of the game unscathed.

"I wouldn't really say I pitch to any certain team differently," Strasburg said. "It's just baseball. I think you get away with some pitches and you get beat on some pitches and I think today I was on the side of getting away with some.

"I think I just need to not necessarily look at the results and look at the areas of improvement and I think that comes with just trying to execute some of your pitches better next time and not really saying the job is done."

It is also a good sign that Martinez is monitoring Strasburg's pitch levels to the point where he did not force it, and allowed him to step off after four innings. It may also be a sign that Martinez is building confidence in his bullpen: Justin Miller, Wander Suero, Trevor Gott, Sammy Solís and Brandon Kintzler combined to get the final 12 outs, surrendering two runs on four hits.

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