Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg had been nothing short of his dominant self in his first two minor league rehab starts. Wednesday night in Hagerstown though, Strasburg ran into trouble right off the bat and never really looked sharp, allowing five earned runs on four hits and two walks, striking out three in just 1 2/3 innings.
With his 49th pitch he struck out Lexington's Tyler Burnett with a wicked curveball. Having reached his prescribed pitch limit, Suns' manager Brian Daubach lifted the obviously perturbed starting pitcher.
Strasburg walked the first hitter of the night, Delino DeShields, Jr. and things got worse from there. Burnett doubled, follwed by a single and double, plating three runs total in the first inning. The second inning didn't go much better for Strasburg. A swinging strikeout was followed by a double by the No. 9 hitter, then DeShields walked again. A wild pitch moved the runners up, but Strasburg got Burnett with a knee-buckling curve.
Adding to the insult, reliever Sam Brown gave up a single to his first batter, with two more runs scoring against Strasburg's line.
The velocity was there for Strasburg as he hit 99 on the radar gun and his fastball sat at 96-98, but according to reports he had trouble locating his fastball. It's not surprising that he would encounter some trouble at some point though; this is essentially his spring training and every pitcher goes through a "dead arm" period mid-way through spring training. The key will be how Strasburg responds next time out in five days.