The Washington Nationals lead the National League East by 5 games over the New York Mets. A big part of their success this season is thanks to the strong starting rotation on the mound.
The starting rotation was given a boost on Sunday when Stephen Strasburg their ace returned from the 15-day disabled list. In his first game back, the right-hander threw 6 2/3 innings of hitless ball before being removed after reaching 109 pitches against the Cincinnati Reds.
In the game, Strasburg fanned five batters while walking four. The Nationals won 12-1. The no-hitter by the Nationals was ended during the eighth inning when Ramon Cabrera hit a single off Matt Belisle.
Dusty Baker the veteran manager for Washington said following the game that it is difficult any time you remove a pitcher who is throwing a no-hitter, but the future is what the team needs to think of now and Strasburg was making his first appearance since coming off the DL.
The win was Strasburg’s eleventh of the season giving him a record this season of 11-0. It was also his 14th consecutive win dating back to last season. He is the first starting pitcher in the National League to start a season 11-0 since 1985 when Andy Hawkins did the same for the San Diego Padres.
What makes the decision easier for Baker to pull Strasburg is that the pitcher knows it was the best decision. Strasburg following the games said there are things that are more important to consider down the road for the team.
The Nationals also placed Joe Ross a right-hander on the DL with inflammation of the right shoulder. That opened a spot on the roster for the Nationals to activate Strasburg on Sunday so he could pitch.
Ross did not pitch well through 5 1/3 innings on Saturday against Cincinnati. He gave up 10 hits, which was the most this season along with 4 earned runs. It was noticeable that Ross’ velocity was not where it usually is.
Strasburg made his last start prior to Sunday on June 15. At that time, he strained his upper back and was scratched for his next two starts prior to being place on the DL June 26 retroactive to June 16.
The absence of Ross, who is 7-4 with an ERA of 3.47, means that Lucas Giolito a rookie pitcher for the Nationals will stay in the Washington starting rotation for now.
Giolito, who is just 21, threw four innings of scoreless ball on June 28 in his major league debut versus the New York Mets.