Hothouse flower. Sunny and 75. Delicate Flower. Sweat hog. The first three of those are nicknames for Stephen Strasburg tossed around the internet. The fourth… that’s actually Dusty Baker, and it’s relevant to the current conversation about Washington’s right-hander.
The others… well, they sound like people who are still angry about the “shutdown”.
“He’s kind of a sweat hog,” Baker told reporters in Cincinnati when Strasburg struggled in a July start against the Reds and the manager worried he might be cramping up.
“He’s usually not real, real good when it’s hot, but you could tell that he’s been really working and training to deal with this heat, and he was very good today.”
“He sweats a lot and he’s prone to cramps and that’s what we thought it was.”
Stephen Strasburg tossed six scoreless against the Miami Marlins last time out before this afternoon, on the road in Marlins Park, but cramps in the right-hander’s right calf ended his outing after just the six innings.
Dusty Baker told reporters afterwards he didn’t know what to make of the recurring issue for the 29-year-old starter.
“He threw the ball great and it just came up again,” Baker said.
“I don’t know what to make of it because our trainers are working on it, he’s taking anti-cramping medicine and all that kind of stuff, so I don’t know what to make of it. I’m not a doctor, so just have to make the moves when we have to make the moves.”
Strasburg struck out eight of the 23 batters he faced in the 90-pitch outing, and said he felt great, but he was frustrated by the cramping.
“I feel like my arm was in good shape,” Strasburg said.
“Just getting some humidity and stuff, I’ve been dealing with that for a little bit, and it seems like I just lose a lot of fluids, it doesn’t matter how much I drink, it just kind of goes right through me. IVs were seeming to help me in the past, but they weren’t willing to give me one here, so it’s just part of it, just got to find a way and I went as long as I could.”
The six scoreless innings he did throw gave Strasburg a streak of 26-straight scoreless innings on the mound going back to his return from the 10-Day DL against San Diego back on August 19th.
In the four starts since he came off the Disabled List, the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick has put up a 0.67 ERA, three walks (1.00 BB/9), 31 Ks (10.33 K/9) and a stingy .198/.222/.271 line against in 27 innings.
“He has great command right now,” Baker said. “He has great command of his fastball, and they’re really not picking up his changeup or his slider.”
“He’s throwing the ball great, so we certainly go to keep him healthy down the stretch here.”
If they can keep him healthy, Strasburg will be making just his second postseason start when he takes the mound at some point in this year’s NLDS, having missed out in 2012 due to the aforementioned controversial shutdown, and again in 2016 when what was initially described as a strain of the flexor mass in his right arm, and later diagnosed as a small tear of the pronator tendon ended his season prematurely.