While everybody around him seems to have a steadfast opinion about his impending shutdown, Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg has remained fairly quiet, maintaining a "focus-on-the-next-start" mentality.
Yet, after being chased in a 9-7 loss to the Miami Marlins Friday, manager Davey Johnson admitted that Strasburg has been wrestling with the decision, which may have contributed to his poor start.
"To be honest with you, I think he just was thinking too much about the decision of when we’re gonna shut him down,” Johnson said in his postgame press conference. “He kinda wore it [on the mound]. I didn’t like it. But that’s the way it is. I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shut down. Just the way I read it.”
Strasburg's final home start of the season was supposed to a night that Nationals fans would remember, but it quickly turned into one that both they and he would like to forget. The Marlins got to Strasburg early and ended his night much earlier than expected; in a season-low three innings, he allowed six hits, three walks and five runs (including two home runs -- he allowed one in six starts during the entire month of August).
Washington rallied without him, forcing extra innings after overcoming a 6-2 deficit, but fell short in the 10th.
“I can understand where he’s at,” Johnson continued. “In conversations that I’ve had with him, he was having trouble sleeping thinking about, you know, letting the guys down. So, I understand his mood.”
Strasburg, however, disagreed with his manager, saying that his poor start can simply be attributed to poor fastball control.
"No," Strasburg said when asked if he was thinking too much about his shutdown. "I just don't think I pitched well."
Luckily for Strasburg, he has one more start this season to redeem himself Wednesday against the New York Mets. Or does he?
When asked if Strasburg's short outing Friday might extend his season, Johnson was terse, but cryptic.
"It might," he said.
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