Stephen Strasburg will make his 2021 debut when the Washington Nationals and visiting Atlanta Braves conclude their three-game series with a doubleheader on Wednesday.
In 2020, the right-hander pitched just five innings before his season ended and he ultimately underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. This spring he was bothered by a calf strain and had a 3.95 ERA over 13 2/3 innings.
Strasburg, 32, was 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA over 33 starts in 2019 starts.
He’s 14-12 with 4.07 ERA in 34 starts against Atlanta. Freddie Freeman is hitting .339 with four homers and 19 RBIs versus Strasburg, while Ronald Acuna Jr. is hitting .429 and Marcell Ozuna .318.
Strasburg will start the second game for Washington. With starters Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester on the injured list, manager Dave Martinez will turn to right-hander Erick Fedde for game one.
Fedde was 2-4 with a 4.29 earned run average in 11 games (eight starts) in 2020.
“I like the match-up,” Martinez said. “He was throwing the ball well at the end of Spring Training.”
Fedde has struggled against Atlanta in the past and is 0-1 with a 12.56 ERA in four games (three starts).
Left-hander Max Fried starts game one for Atlanta. He allowed two runs over five innings in Atlanta’s 3-2 Opening Day loss to the Phillies on April 1, striking out eight with two walks.
Fried is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in six games (five starts) versus Washington. Trea Turner is 4-for-11 (.364) against Fried and Victor Robles is 4-for-8, while Juan Soto has one hit in eight at-bats against him.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said reliever Huascar Ynoa could start the second game. Ynoa is 0-0 with a 7.56 ERA in three games, including one start, against Washington.
Soto singled home the winning run with no outs in the ninth inning, and the Nationals opened their season with a 6-5 win against the Braves on Tuesday.
With two on and no outs, Soto hit a line drive to center on a 3-0 count, scoring Robles with his first career walk-off hit.
Turner hit a two-run homer for undermanned Washington, which finally began the season after four games were postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Three of Atlanta’s four losses have been by one run.
“It’s the same game we’ve been playing for two years,” Snitker said. “We’re not used to playing these games. This is an everyday occurrence for us. It’s just one of those little things, the difference between winning and losing.”
Washington’s Opening Day roster did not include starting pitchers Corbin and Lester, reliever Brad Hand, catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, infielders Josh Bell, Josh Harrison or Jordy Mercer, or outfielder Kyle Schwarber, each of whom was placed on the injured list for an undisclosed reason and timeline.
Veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, signed to a minor league contract on Saturday, was pressed into service Tuesday and contributed a two-run double.
“Had about a week off not doing anything after I got released by the White Sox,” Lucroy said. “Just kind of waiting for an opportunity. I hate that these guys are sick over here but I’m here to help and do what I can to help this team win, no matter how long I’m here, so we’ll see.”
On Tuesday, the Braves acquired infielder Orlando Arcia from the Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitchers Chad Sobotka and Patrick Weigel. Arcia, 26, is a career .244 hitter over 542 games for Milwaukee and hit 15 home runs in 2017 and 2019.
“He was kind of an up-and-coming guy. I was a little surprised that he was available,” Snitker said. “He’s had some good years. He played all their games last year. I think it’s a strong acquisition for us.”
–Field Level Media