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Preview, #72: 6/15 @ Nationals

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Taylor Clarke has the unenviable task of facing Stephen Strasburg

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS NATIONALS
Ketel Marte - CF Trea Turner - SS
Ildemaro Vargas - 2B Adam Eaton - RF
David Peralta - LF Anthony Rendon - 3B
Adam Jones - RF Juan Soto - LF
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Matt Adams - 1B
Christian Walker - 1B Brian Dozier - 2B
Nick Ahmed - SS Yan Gomes - C
Carson Kelly - C Victor Robles - CF
Taylor Clarke - RHP S. Strasburg - RHP

Stephen Strasburg turns 31 next month. I find this, frankly, startling. It hardly seems like yesterday that he was THE up and coming pitcher, to the point that we had a ‘Daily Strasburg’ section in Snake Bytes. But he actually is now in his tenth major-league season, and sits 37th on the list among active pitchers for innings pitched. He is basically a grizzled veteran at this point. [The two pitches immediately behind him are Wade Miley and Clay Buchholz, which gives you some idea] There was a point at which it seemed he was going to dominate in a Kershaw-like fashion. Through his age 24 season, he made 75 starts and had a sub-three ERA (2.96). But... it didn’t quite happen.

Oh, he has been a good to very good pitcher, with an ERA+ of 128 since then. But not elite, with only one Cy Young finish above ninth. Injury has certainly played an issue, with 2014 being the last season when Strasburg made over 28 starts. Over the last four full seasons, he has averaged only 24 games and 145 innings. So far this year though, he has avoided the injured list, going 7-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 14 outings; and with a fielding-independent ERA of 2.77, he has arguably been better still. 110 strikeouts in 91 innings suggests that the D-backs hitters will find this afternoon not much less of a challenge than was last night’s contest against Max Scherzer.

Clarke, meanwhile, has found things tough after breezing through his first couple of outings. His last three starts have totaled only 10.1 innings and more earned runs allowed (11). He has been hit hard, with most of the fourteen hits allowed having gone for extra bases, including three home-runs and three triples. However, luck and/or defense might have played a part there, with a BABIP against of .361, even though his line-drive rate of 18% doesn’t seem particularly excessive. It’s too early to say he’s pitching for his spot in the rotation - especially with the question-mark over who’s going to replace Jon Duplantier. But better performances would certainly be welcome.