Stephen Strasburg made his fourth start for the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon against the Royals, and it went about as well as you might expect.
The rookie phenom struck out nine batters, issued no walks and allowed only one run over six strong innings. He didn’t get to ball four on a single batter and 75 of his 95 pitches went for strikes. Of course, the Nats’ offense gave him exactly zero run support and he wound up with his first loss of the season.
Strasburg, 21, is now 2-1 with a 1.78 earned-run average, a 0.95 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 25.1 major league innings.
He earned strikeout No. 41 with a knee-buckling 83 MPH curveball to Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik, snapping a record held by Herb Score, who struck out 40 batters in his first four major league starts back in 1955. It’s no secret by now, but Strasburg has been historically good.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.