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.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.