MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Strasburg ends season on vintage hot streak

Strasburg ends season on vintage hot streak

ATLANTA -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg ended his season on a great note, pitching six shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over the Braves on Thursday night.

Strasburg has been virtually untouchable in his last four starts, pitching 29 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out 44 batters. He finished the season with 11 wins and a 3.46 ERA. Not bad considering he finished the first half with five wins and a 5.16 ERA.

"I learned a lot about myself through this process," Strasburg said. "I think it's good to go out there and have a solid outing, but I'm just trying to focus on what I can control and give everything I have."

The key to success was staying healthy and not focusing on the past. Strasburg spent the first half of the season dealing with ankle, back, neck and oblique injuries. Once he returned from the oblique injury, he vowed to focus on every pitch he threw that particular day. And he did. Strasburg has looked like the rookie sensation that overpowered the Pirates in his debut back in 2010.

"Everything happens for a reason. It's a good learning experience," Strasburg said. "It's about focusing on the present. When that is done, then you focus on your next outing."

Strasburg showed how focused he was against the Braves. In the sixth inning, Atlanta had runners on first and second with one out, but Strasburg struck out Nick Swisher and Jace Peterson to end the threat. By the time the inning ended, Strasburg threw 104 pitches.

"If the sixth wasn't as heavy, he would have been fine for the seventh," manager Matt Williams said.

Strasburg would like to see the Nationals end the season on a high note by winning their final three games against the Mets.

"I think everybody in here is disappointed how the season turned out," Strasburg said. "I think we can learn a lot from it and it would be huge for us to go into New York, play our best baseball and get them in a slump heading into their playoffs. That's all we can do. Every single game is just as important."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.