It was bound to happen eventually. Even with the Nationals’ natitudinal meddling, Stephen Strasburg is simply too talented to go his entire career without pitching eight complete innings. He’s a power pitcher and a strikeout guy who racks up big pitch counts, which simply doesn’t gel with the Nationals persistent fear that one day he might just fall apart before their eyes.

After 53 starts, over which he amassed more than 360 strikeouts, Stephen Strasburg finally did the impossible: he went eight strong innings in a Nats win. Rejoice!

It wasn’t exactly a prototypical Strasmas, with ample strikeouts and swinging strike piled upon swinging strike. This was the new, “improved” Stephen Strasburg. Pitching to contact. Coaxing weak-contact ground balls out of hitters. Managing his pitch count. Waging a one-man war on fun.

Stephen Strasburg, W (2-5) 8 3 2 1 3 4 0 2.83 31 117 68 11 20 15 8 1 71 0.233
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/17/2013.

Just under 10% on the swinging strike rate but a 65% of his balls in play went for grounders? RIP Stephen Strasburg, we hardly knew ye. As an added bonus, here is a cool graphic from the Washington Post’s Nationals Journal:

Quibble and tease as we might, this was an excellent start by a great pitcher, one which happened to come in his hometown in front of 50 friends and family members. Which is fun and all but, more importantly for the Nationals, it represented their ace showing he was just that. He still threw the most pitches in a single start this season, but it looks more like the guy Stephen Strasburg believes he needs to be: going deep into games by pitching more efficiently.

Letting Strasburg loose was the Nats promise in 2013, one the team (with help from an ineffective pitcher battling his mechanics) did not deliver. It might just be one random start against a bad team in a good pitchers ballpark with his family and friends on hand, but if this is the future of Stephen Strasburg, I’m sure the Nationals will gladly take it. He didn’t even let an error behind him derail him, as was the concern after his last outing.

At the end of the day, nobody can really complain about eight innings of two run ball. Even if the final product isn’t as sexy or exciting as the pitcher he used to be.

And the reset

Most importantly: it the Getting Blanked podcast #129 from yesterday! We talked about Shelby Miller, made fun of the Giants and rode upon a great train.

Or download the mp3 link directly right here. To avoid these delays in the future, subscribe on iTunes or add this RSS link to your podcast machine.

Jim Leyland. JIM LEYLAND [Baseball Nation's Hot Corner]

From the GIF master DShep, here is Ian Kinsler doing his very best Kelly Gruber impression.

Speaking of DShep, he gives Mariano Rivera the overlayed GIF treatment [Fangraphs]

Vance Worley, sneakerhead. [Pioneer Press]

Ben Lindbergh’s tour de force on pitch framing [Grantland]

Related: pitch framing from before the Pitch F/X era [Baseball Prospectus]

My Approach: Tim Lincecum [Getting Blanked]

Speaking of Lincecum, pondering his fate and thinking this impossible: this could be his final season in San Francisco [Sports on Earth]


Braves reliever Jonny Venters underwent his second Tommy John surgery yesterday, which is a huge bummer. [AJC]

Speaking of surgeries, Roy Halladay had one yesterday as well. Full oil change, gasket replacement and neuralnet OS update [High Cheese]