Some people will tell you Strasburg was never very good and always wilted in pressure situations. This is wrong. This is demonstrably wrong. I still strongly advocate the classic debate rebuttal tactic of face-punching when it comes to these people. If that fails, continue with the tactic as it will at least stop them from speaking more idiocy into the air.
However being good in the past is worth all of nothing. Right now we care about... well right now and Strasburg is not good right now. This was a particularly bad outing, to be sure. Atypical of what I think he'd put up the next time out. But he's only had one good game so far (7.1 IP 1ER 5 H 7K 2BB affair vs the Phillies) and one decent one (5.1 IP 2ER 6H 7 K 1 BB) the other five have ranged from disappointing to last night.
Here are Strasburg's numbers right now:
1.710 WHIP, 12.6 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 8.8 SO/9, .327 / .381 / .464
Here is the worst he's done in these stats, cherry picking from various seasons (excluding his 24IP 2011)
1.155 WHIP, 8.3 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 9.4 SO/9, .245 / .286 / .385
His worst month ever is arguably July of 2012. Here's how he did in that month
1.412 WHIP, 10.8 H/9, 1.9 BB/9, 10.2 K/9, .296 / .331 / .513
Strasburg is pitching worse than he has ever pitched, not by a little, by leaps and bounds. Why? Well you can argue declining fastball speed I guess (down to 94.4 from 95.7 in 2012) but that's usually not an issue until a pitcher gets much closer to 90MPH. You could argue the movement of his pitches, but there doesn't seem to be any appreciable difference in them statistically (though there is a lot more that goes into that than just movement numbers so I claim nothing here other than "it's not obviously this") Even if it was one or the other it could still be the most likely culprit in my eyes. Injury.
If it is injury it would be a delightful litmus test showing how fans irrationally don't like Strasburg. He's been hurt. He hasn't really said anything to the media to make excuses. He's tried to pitch through it. That's gritty! (and stupid - but it also takes a stupid team to bring it to fruition) and yet I bet if that's the case you won't hear any "I like his heart for trying!" Instead you'll hear "oh he's a head case because he couldn't pitch through it" or "he's too fragile" or some junk like that. Those that don't like Strasburg cannot be satisfied, hypocrisy be damned.
But that's just me railing, really the most important thing is what happens if he is injured and does go on the DL. The Nats can roll the dice with AJ Cole but he does not seem ready. Stretch out Roark? Sure, he's looked good, but that'll take time and what happens to the pen? Taylor Jordan? I suppose. Either way they aren't going to be 2012-2014 Strasburg.
Strasburg's issues are obviously not good news for the Nats. Not for this year or for next where Strasburg was to help cover the expected losses of ZNN and Fister. However, it's not devastating news even if he ends up being out for the year (or just stinking all year). Having 4 top notch starters is still really good. It does take out the Nats starting pitching cushion though so if another guy goes down, the strength of Nats team is no longer a strength and given the offensive and pen questions October plans become a lot more tentative. (SO NO ONE ELSE GET HURT)