At age 25, even with a brief trip to the disabled list, Strasburg submitted an impressive season. Strasburg went 8-9, pitched 183 innings – 232
3 more than his truncated 2012 season — and punched up a 3.00 ERA with 191 strikeouts, 56 walks and 136 hits allowed. His fourth big league season was his first full season. It still felt like a transition episode, the bridge between his shutdown and the full-blown ace he can become.
“I still think Stephen’s got a long way to go,” Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth said. “He’s got a while until he’ll reach his ceiling. But he’s young, he’s still learning. But this year’s been good for him. I think it’s been a challenging year, it’s been a trying year for him, and it probably didn’t go exactly the way he wanted it to. But he pitched good. He grew up a lot throughout the year, and I think it’s definitely something that he can build on.”
Werth, who blasted a game-breaking, three-run homer, was told Strasburg’s statistics for the season.
“Yeah, pretty rough on him, I guess,” Werth said, smiling.
The thing is, there may be no one tougher on Strasburg than himself. That, too, is one area in which Strasburg improved.
“I put more pressure on myself than anybody,” Strasburg said. “I think I have to step back a few times and not be so hard on myself. Because I honestly do expect to throw a no-hitter out there every time. It still hasn’t happened, but I expect it to.”
Strasburg received some of the worst run support in the majors, but the Nationals’ lineup bolstered him Friday night against Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin. Strasburg fell behind 2-0 in the third. Bryce Harper smashed an RBI double in the fourth. In the fifth, Werth provided the most important and impressive blow. He broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer off the face of the upper deck in left, his 25th of the season. Ramos smashed a towering three-run shot of his own to seal the game in the eighth.
The Nationals’ outburst helped Strasburg cruise to his eighth win. He entered the season with the ambition of becoming the staff workhorse, and he took another step Friday night. He pitched at least seven innings for the 16th time in his 30 starts. Last season, Strasburg pitched seven innings only five times in 28 starts.
“The one thing I did a good job improving on from the beginning of the season was that the things that happened that were unexpected, I tried not to let that affect me as much and carry over to the next pitch,” Strasburg said. “Obviously, there were a lot of crazy things that happened this year for me and for this team. That’s one thing we learned as a group: It all doesn’t matter. It’s all about how you respond to it.”