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That there ever was a real problem with Strasburg is a hard point to make, even when that 1-5 record was staring everyone in the face. He’s made 11 starts now, and given up two or fewer earned runs in eight of them. Even if you bend the rules and make those Cubs‘ runs “earned,” two or fewer seven times every 11 starts is a stat most pitchers would take happily. He hasn’t given up a home run in four straight starts and six of his past seven.

Watching him when he is on is a joy. There’s an air about him of ‘I’m controlling this game,’ rather than one of the game controlling him. Even when the Phillies put two on with nobody out in the eighth, there was little panic as slugger Ryan Howard stepped in to pinch hit. Strasburg induced a double play.

This was powerful Strasburg on display and an elevated pitch count (112) kept him from going after his first complete game. Twice, he struck out the Phils’ 4-5-6 hitters in the same inning. Granted, that’s less impressive than it used to be given the decline of the Phils. It still takes some doing.

It’s not how you start a season but how you finish, Strasburg said after that game. If he stays his current course, Strasburg looks like he’s primed to finish pretty strong.

The stuck-in-the-mud Nats still have their issues. Being one game over .500 after 51 games is not what anyone envisioned.

Strasburg, though, is not one of those issues.