Stephen Strasburg got off to a rough start this season, giving up ten runs (seven earned) in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts. However, a dominant performance against the Marlins his last time out (6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 12 K) had the Nationals and their fans optimistic about his rematch against Miami in Marlins Park on Tuesday night. Then, before he recorded his first out in the bottom of the first, this happened:
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Giancarlo Stanton hit that three-run home run 457 feet to dead center field, the longest home run ever hit off Strasburg in the major leagues. In the second inning, light-hitting Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who is off to a hot start, welcomed Strasburg back to the mound with a first-pitch, stand-up triple. Miami added three more runs to put Strasburg down 6-0 after just two innings. Strasburg managed to get through the third and fourth innings without incurring further damage, but when the top of the fifth came, his night was ended by a pinch-hitter after just 81 pitches. The Nationals eventually lost to the Marlins 11-2.
The outing raised Strasburg's ERA on the young season to 6.00 and his WHIP to 1.57, but even more surprising than those statistics are Strasburg's career numbers both at Marlins Park and against the Marlins, the team he has faced more than any other in his major league career. Tuesday night's start raised Strasburg's career ERA against the Marlins to 4.17, his highest mark against any team he has faced more than three times. To put that in context, since Strasburg entered the league in 2010, the Marlins have averaged 3.83 runs per game overall. That means that when Strasburg, one of the game's best pitchers, has faced the Marlins, one of the weakest-hitting teams in baseball over the course of his career, he has been a below-average pitcher. In fact, if we include unearned runs, Strasburg has allowed 4.39 runs per nine innings in his 16 career starts against the Marlins, more than half a run per game more than the Marlins have scored against the league as a whole over the last five years.
Things get even worse when you look at Strasburg's five starts at Marlins Park. Strasburg didn't allow a run in 12 innings in his two starts at the Marlins former stadium, and kept that streak alive with six scoreless innings in his first start at Marlins Park in July 2012. Since then, however, he has yet to turn in another quality start in Miami in four tries, instead giving up 24 runs (22 earned) in 17 innings over those four outings, including Tuesday night's disaster. Here are the lines of Strasburg's five starts at Marlins Park
Taken together, those five starts yield a career 7.92 ERA and 1.72 WHIP at Marlins Park, a fairly neutral park occupied by a weak-hitting team. That ERA is by far Strasburg's worst at any ballpark in which he has pitched in the major leagues, and the only park in which Strasburg has made more road starts than Marlins Park is Atlanta's Turner Field. Strasburg has pretty lousy numbers in Atlanta, as well (5.79 ERA, 1.71 WHIP in six starts), and after Tuesday night has a road ERA more than a full run higher than his home mark, but that doesn't make the Marlins' success against Strasburg any less special.
Consider this: Of Strasburg's seven worst major league starts by game score, five of them have come against the Marlins, and two of those came in Washington. Strasburg's worst major league start was that July 12, 2013 start in Miami listed above (game score of 16). His second worst? Tuesday night's outing, which tied a July 2012 outing against the Phillies in Washington with a game score of 24. The man who has done the most damage? Stanton, of course. The Marlins' masher, who debuted the same season as Strasburg, is now hitting .346/.414/.846 in 29 career plate appearances against the Nationals' righty and is the only player to have homered three times against him in his career. So apparently this is a thing now. Fortunately for Strasburg, the Nationals don't face the Marlins again until late May and, after Wednesday night, don't return to Miami until the end of July.