I know, I know, Stephen Strasburg pitched well enough to win last night. I can see that through six innings, he hadn't allowed a run and still had a healthy amount of strikeouts. I know his pitch count was low. But can you honestly tell me that Strasburg had "it" last night?
The seventh inning is what people are going to talk about, but as Adam Kilgore points out in Nationals Journal, Strasburg was pitching as well as we have seen,
After throwing an unreal 75 of his 95 pitches for strikes in his last start, Strasburg did falter with his typically precise control at times. He threw first-pitch balls to 15 of the 25 batters he faced. He walked Chipper Jones, the leadoff batter in the seventh, on four pitches.
Whether it was the Atlanta heat or the Braves lineup, Stephen Strasburg wasn't incredible last night, and he knew it.
"Definitely, next time around, if my pitches aren't working I'm going to have to stick with them a little bit more," Strasburg said. "Because I'm going to need them. I can't just eliminate one pitch because it's not really working early on. They're going to figure it out pretty fast when you're only throwing two pitches."
But (and we really like to see this) Strasburg refuses to let that become an excuse.
"When you have those type of outings when your stuff is not really there, the top pitchers in the league are going to get through it," Strasburg said. "For the most part, I did well enough. I kept the team in the ballgame. But things aren't working for us right now. We've got to keep our heads up. We've got to go out there and keep working hard."
Its totally unfair to expect Strasburg to be at his absolute best every night. I know this. In fact, his "not-so good" stuff is still better than most starting pitchers. But on a night when the Nationals are seemingly refusing to score runs, only to start booting the ball all over the park in the seventh, Strasburg would have needed to be at his peak to keep his team in the game.