WASHINGTON -- As Stephen Strasburg walked off the mound in the seventh inning Tuesday night, the crowd of 33,096 at Nationals Park, which included a strong and vocal contingent of Mets fans, let out a loud roar while giving him a standing ovation. For all the ups and downs throughout Strasburg's career, perhaps this recent stretch has established him among the best pitchers in baseball.
He improved to 8-0 on the season with a 2.79 ERA after another strong outing, where he gave up only two runs on four hits and struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings as the Nationals cruised to a 7-4 victory over the Mets. Strasburg and the Cubs' Jake Arrieta are the only pitchers in the Majors with that many victories without a loss.
"That means he is one of the best out there, and he's pitching like it," manager Dusty Baker said.
The Nationals have won 14 consecutive games started by Strasburg, extending his own franchise record. He is the first pitcher in franchise history to start 8-0 in a season since Pedro Martinez did for the Expos in 1997. Strasburg also notched double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time in 10 starts this season.
This run of dominance dates back to June 23, 2015, when he returned from a neck injury. Since then, only Arrieta (1.03) and Clayton Kershaw (1.32) own a better ERA than Strasburg (2.22).
"Adjectives are tough to describe how well he's thrown the ball this year," second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "I'm glad he's on my side. And he's just been unbelievable."
At a time when the Mets are trying to figure out what is wrong with Matt Harvey, Washington has to feel good about Strasburg and his recently signed seven-year contract extension. Strasburg began last season in a similar spot to Harvey, where he struggled through the first half before he began this dominant stretch.
Baker suggested before the game that when a pitcher is competing this well, the entire team gains more confidence when he is on the mound. And they have good reason with the way everything has clicked for Strasburg recently. He has added a new pitch, a cutter/slider combo that has become a regular part of his arsenal. And on nights like Tuesday when everything is working, he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the game.
"There's definitely some highs and lows, obviously there was quite a bit of lows last year for me," Strasburg said. "I think I learned a lot through that process, so I'm just trying to ride the roller coaster and stay consistent and be a good teammate every single day.
"And do everything I can to help the team win the game."
When he has taken the mound lately, that has certainly not been a problem.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.