Phillies Opposition Roadblock: Washington Nationals
The Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg
Over the course of what appears to be a beautiful weekend, the Nationals will trot out Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, and Gio Gonzalez against the Phils. Last weekend, I went with Max Scherzer at this spot and he did not disappoint. He was dominant in the Friday home opener, and helped the Nationals to their only win of the set.
The Phils only saw one of the three pitchers for this series last weekend, and he was also very good. Strasburg has been solid in his first two starts for the Nats and will look to exact some revenge from his no decision last Sunday. He was dominant during stretches of that game, but did allow three runs over seven innings. Along the way, he struck out eight Phillies hitters.
Strasburg has changed his approach to pitching quite drastically coming into 2017. He has decided to only pitch from the stretch in order to control his mechanics more effectively. It has not changed the velocity with which he delivers the baseball. The change does make sense for a player who has been affected by arm troubles so early and often in his career. Pitching out of the stretch will simplify his delivery with less moving parts and allow for the important parts of his route to the plate to stay clean.
The Phillies were able to take advantage of situations with runners on base during Sunday’s game. In order to beat Strasburg, that is a necessity. When he gives opportunities, the Phils better be ready to pounce. Otherwise, the righty will settle in and completely dominate a ballgame.
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As we saw Sunday, the 28 year old will throw any of his pitches in any count. In the first, he threw three straight fastballs for strikes to set down Howie Kendrick. Later in the game, he threw two curveballs to start a Brock Stassi pinch hit at bat, then froze him with a froze him with a 96 MPH fastball to put him away.
In other words, be ready for any pitch at any time with the remade righty. Take advantage of the few opportunities he gives. And hope the offense can get back on track in the nation’s capital.