Stephen Strasburg unstoppable against Marlins, as per usual

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WASHINGTON – Often, Stephen Strasburg's greatness gets lost behind who the Washington Nationals have pitching in their No. 1 spot. 

This season especially, filled with the slow start, the putrid bullpen, the record-breaking offensive numbers and Max Scherzer's injury it's easy for him to fall on the backburner. 

Saturday night against the Miami Marlins was not a backburner performance. One that would make several pitching staffs across the majors envious that it came from a No. 2 pitcher. It was arguably one of the best starts that the 31-year-old pitcher has hurled his entire career and one that moved the team to their best mark of the season at 76-58. 

At Nationals Park he went 8.0 innings, tied a season-high 14 strikeouts and retired 22 consecutive batters in a 7-0 victory for the Nats.

Pretty darn good. 

"I was able to sit down for a lot of part of the game and watch," manager Davey Martinez said postgame on being able to appreciate Strasburg's outing. "But when he gets in that zone, which he's been in that zone a lot of this year… he's fun to watch."

Fun to watch doesn't even begin to describe how massive the game was for Strasburg. 

The 14 strikeouts moved him to first in the National League, past Jacob de Grom for the most strikeouts on the season with 215. He also collected his 16th win, which also leads the NL.

Unbelievably, the night had an auspicious start for the 10-year veteran. Getting through the opening frame was not a medial task against the Marlins. A pair of back-to-back singles gave the Marlins early baserunners and Strasburg was on his heels. But as the next batter Neil Walker grounded right to Strasburg to start a 1-6-3 double play, that would be the closest the Marlins would ever get to touching the plate again. 

That was the first of the 22 straight Miami batters that had to return to the dugout with the right-hander on the mound. 

"You know, there's a couple of pitches, that first inning, didn't get the ball in," Strasburg said to reporters postgame. "[For the night] I was able to throw my curveball for strikes when I wanted to and the change-up was pretty good as well."

Of his 107 pitches, 81 of them were for strikes.

Pitching gems against the Marlins is nothing new though for Strasburg. This victory marked his 12th straight against the team from South Beach. According to the Elias Sports Bureau that is the longest winning streak for a pitcher in the franchise's history and tied with Clayton Kershaw for the longest active streak in MLB. 

Strasburg has started 35 games on the mound against Miami since he came up to the majors in 2010. With 21 victories, there is not a single opponent that Strasburg has beaten more. 

And no pitcher in MLB history has beaten the Marlins more than he has.

As he has done so often in the past month and a half, Strasburg contributed to his win at the plate. He entered the game batting .350 with seven RBI since July 18. Driving home the third run of the game on the second pitch he saw, Strasburg notched his 11th hit of the season. 
Anthony Rendon would also homer twice to bring his season total up to 31 on the year. Juan Soto added a solo jack in the first and Kurt Suzuki had a two-run shot in the fourth. 

"[Strasburg has] been amazing the whole year. Last year he been a very hurt and other stuff, but this year is wow," Soto said postgame.

The aforementioned strikeouts and wins leader in the NL has now moved Strasburg to the forefront of the Cy Young conversation. While he may not be the Nationals ace on the depth chart, those numbers alone have him right next to the other faces of the NL. 

At least for now, Martinez might have multiple options on who to start if the team is forced to play in the winner-take-all wild card game. 

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Stephen Strasburg unstoppable against Marlins, as per usual originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington