Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was dominant in his sixth minor league rehab start Thursday evening at Double-A Harrisburg.
According to Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times, the 23-year-old phenom surrendered just one hit over six scoreless innings while reaching 99 mph with his fastball. Strasburg threw 55 of his 71 pitches for strikes, fanning four opposing batters and yielding just one free pass via a hit-by-pitch. He induced seven groundball outs and four flyouts.
Strasburg threw five innings of one-run ball last time out at Triple-A Syracuse and seems to be growing more and more comfortable executing his full arsenal of pitches. In fact, 15 of his final 36 deliveries Thursday were either curveballs or changeups.
Strasburg is on track to return to the major leagues next Tuesday against the Dodgers. He’d probably do well to build his pitch count with one or two more rehab appearances, but the Nationals are excited about filling their stadium a couple of times down the stretch and don’t believe he’s in danger of re-injury. The former No. 1 overall draft pick underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on September 3, 2010.
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.