What can the Dodgers offense do to beat Stephen Strasburg?
The Dodgers will be hard-pressed to get hits tonight. They’ll probably have trouble getting on base at all. That is if Stephen Strasburg has his way again.
For the second time this series, the Dodgers and Nationals are throwing right-handed flamethrowers. Both of them won their starts, Game One for Walker Buehler and Game Two for Strasburg.
Strasburg held the Dodgers down with what seemed like his best stuff in that start. He struck out 10, allowing one run on three hits. What may be even more impressive is how good his career postseason numbers are, despite the Nationals being historically bad in the playoffs.
Strasburg has a career 0.64 ERA in 28 postseason innings, racking up 38 strikeouts to four walks over that stretch. That is quite impressive. No Dodgers pitcher, at least on the current team, has had that many solid postseason performances to their name.
Because of all of his past success, Strasburg may simply be unbeatable in the playoffs. He may have a knack for the drama, for the pressure, which elevates his stuff and his focus to a point at which no one can hit him, not even one of the top offenses in the game.
I find that hard to believe though. He’s got to be tired. Today is the ninth day October, and he’s already thrown nine innings this month. Normally, over a nine-day stretch, you’d prefer to see your starter have one more off day before they go out and start quite possibly the most important playoff game in your franchise’s history. He’s also far from injury-free, and this season marks the first time in his career since 2014 that Strasburg has eclipsed 200 innings in the regular season.
All told, there are plenty of reasons to doubt that Strasburg can be at his physical best tonight, and yet his past playoff performances would suggest otherwise.
But beyond all of this, I want to isolate what teams have done against him this season and see if the Dodgers will be able to replicate those results, much like what I tried to do in analyzing Max Scherzer before his Game Four start.