MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Strasburg on his game in impressive '16 debut

Nats righty fans five of first seven, allows two-run HR

Strasburg on his game in impressive '16 debut

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was dealing in his first spring game as the Nationals pounded the Tigers, 8-4, on Saturday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium. 

Strasburg pitched two innings, allowed two runs on two hits and struck out five. Strasburg's only mistake came in the second inning when he allowed a two-run homer to Bryan Holaday. Nationals manager Dusty Baker was impressed by what he saw.

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"He threw some electric pitches up there -- easy," Baker said. "Sometimes you get jumped [and allow home runs]."

Strasburg said he was going to fine-tune his pitches. He didn't like the way he threw to the right-handed hitters and had problems throwing inside to them. But everything else felt fine.

"The curveball and fastball felt really good." said Strasburg, who struck out five of the first seven batters he faced. "It seems like every time, I give up a homer in my first outing. But it's not something that is alarming."

Strasburg faced his former teammate, Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed one run on one hit. It was Zimmermann's first start since signing a five-year, $110 million deal with Detroit.

"He is a bulldog. He is going to go right after you," Strasburg said. "He is going to pound the strike zone. He is very consistent. He is quiet and he goes about his business."

For Strasburg, it was weird seeing Zimmermann as an opponent. Before the game, they met in the Nationals' weight room.

"It was good to see him," the Washington righty said. "He is doing well. He likes it with the Tigers. I'm happy for him. Both of our families are very close."

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