Stephen Strasburg (2010-11, 2015) – 4-2, 1.36 ERA, WHIP 0.73, 37 K, 6 BB
Forget the five starts Strasburg made with Harrisburg to begin his professional career. Forget the stunning MLB debut the right-hander had on June 8, 2010 against the Pirates where he struck out a then franchise record 14 batters.
A little less than three months later Strasburg felt a twinge in his throwing arm after delivering a changeup and Tommy John surgery became necessary for the San Diego State product.
It was a long road back for Strasburg. By the time he arrived back on City Island rehabbing another injury in June 2015, the overall first pick in the 2009 draft had failed to deliver on the promise he once showed. He was carrying a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts and was struggling to find answers.
Slowly, Strasburg fixed what was ailing him and once again became a dominant pitcher. The last two post-seasons are Exhibit A and B to that.
First there was the elimination Game 4 in Chicago against the Cubs in the 2017 playoffs when Strasburg was sick. The “old” Strasburg may have waited until he was fully recovered to take the mound that night, but this new version wanted the ball. Seven shutout innings later the Nationals’ hopes were still alive and Strasburg had erased most of the doubts about his fortitude and gumption.
The 2019 post-season solidified the “new” Strasburg. The right-hander finished a perfect 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA including two spectacular starts in the World Series earning MVP honors in the process.
Maybe Strasburg has matured with age. Maybe his family has helped put things in perspective. Maybe all that dancing last season helped him get back to when baseball was fun.
Whatever it was, this is the guy Senators fans saw the promise of back in 2010.