If you want to move past the disappointments of this season and instead focus on the upcoming positives of 2016, look no further than Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander finished his dominant second half off strong, tossing six scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Braves.
As he has since returning from his second stint on the 15-day disabled list this year, Strasburg continued commanding each at-bat with pinpoint control. He walked just one batter for the fifth consecutive start while striking out seven.
“He’s been really good,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said to reporters. “It’s health related. It always has been. I think he has just finished as strong as you could possibly finish.”
Strasburg battled a sprained left ankle along with back and neck issues throughout the season’s first two months. Many times he appeared uncomfortable on the mound as his rhythm slowed his normal aggressive approach, which escaped.
The results reflected Strasburg’s discomfort as the 27-year-old labored through a 3-5 mark with a disastrous 6.55 ERA through his first 10 starts before heading to the disabled list the first time on May 30.
Strasburg emerged from the DL appearing confident on the mound, winning his first two starts before a strained left oblique interfered with his season again. He missed another month before returning on Aug. 8.
In his final 13 starts of the season, Strasburg went 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA. He struck out a whopping 110 batters and walked just 12 over 82 innings.
“I learned about myself through this process,” Strasburg told reporters. “It’s obviously good to go out with a solid outing. I’m just trying to focus on what I can control and just give everything I have.”
Strasburg ends his season 11-7 with a 3.46 ERA overall and 155 strikeouts over 23 starts. Speaking more in depth to reporters, Strasburg expounded on his development throughout this difficult season.
“I think I learned to be more aware of my thoughts out there,” Strasburg said to reporters. “And times in the game when you can kind let your focus slip just for the split second. I made it a point to not let that happen and just focus on each pitch and just let everything that I have go on that individual pitch and turn the page.”