The Nationals will not use a hard-and-fast pitch count for Stephen Strasburg on Sunday in his second major league start back from Tommy John surgery. Manager Davey Johnson will simply gauge when to remove Strasburg on his sense and how Strasburg feels.
“I’m just going to go by what I see,” Johnson said. “I don’t have a set number. I’m going to see how it’s going on. I’m not going to let him struggle or anything like that.”
It will be difficult for Strasburg to surpass the performance in his first start, when he shut out the Dodgers for five innings while allowing two hits and no walks and striking out five. Strasburg displayed a new approach, firing his fastball, on purpose, a couple ticks slower than last season in order to improve his command. The Nationals would like to see that once more.
“The one thing I did like, I thought when I first saw him last year, I thought he overthrew,” Johnson said. “He muscled more than I’d ever seen him muscle. I told him before his last few starts in the minor leagues, ‘Free and easy. Don’t stress yourself out. Stay nice and loose. Just hit your spots.’ That’s what I saw up here.”