Stephen Strasburg‘s start to the 2015 season has not been what we have come to expect from the former number-one overall draft pick. The Washington Nationals‘ starter is 3-4 with a 5.98 earned run average in eight starts.
The Nationals are not used to seeing those bloated numbers from Strasburg, who has a career 3.20 ERA and has been a consistent starter for Washington for several years now. His control has not been Strasburg-esque, as he has walked 12 batters in 40.2 innings. Last season Strasburg walked a career low 43 batters in 215.0 innings of work. He has also hit three batters, compared to just five all of last season.
His struggles also stem from the number of hits he has given up. Opposing teams have a total of 55 hits so far this season. Strasburg’s .398 BABIP is up from his career .304 mark. Hitters are making much more contact off of Strasburg this season. Opposing teams have made contact on about 90% of inside pitches and about 75% of outside pitches in 2015. In contrast, his career numbers are 86% on inside pitches and 60.2% on outside pitches.
Strasburg has pitched into the seventh inning just once this year. He also has two games where he went just three innings, giving up nine earned runs combined in those two starts. Opponents have scored more than three runs off Strasburg in five of his eight starts.
With Strasburg struggling the Nationals once scary rotation does not seem so frightening for opposing teams. The nastiness of Strasburg’s stuff is not there so far this season with his walks and hard hit balls by opponents. The Nationals have already suffered the loss of starter Doug Fister. At the beginning of the season, Washington had five all-star starting pitchers. With the Fister injury and Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez struggling, you can see why the Nationals got off to a slow start.
Their offense has been picking up lately and carrying the pitching staff, especially NL MVP front-runner Bryce Harper, who is tearing the cover off the ball right now.
However, the Nationals are going to need Strasburg to be Strasburg if they want to end up where many predicted before the season; as World Series champions.
It has been a rough start for the Nationals ace. Most of his starts have been below average this season, which is not what the Nationals expect, and need, from him. If Washington wants to contend in the end they will need Strasburg to be the front-of-the-rotation guy fans and management are accustomed to seeing.