Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was named the 2019 World Series MVP following the Nats' 6-2 Game 7 win over the Houston Astros Wednesday night to clinch the franchise's first championship in history.
Strasburg went 2-0 in his World Series starts, including his crucial Game 6 performance Tuesday night to force a Game 7.
In Game 6, Strasburg stepped on the mound at Houston's Minute Maid Park with his team down 3-2 in the series and his opponent riding a three-game winning streak. The 2009 first overall draft pick pitched as if he felt none of that pressure, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out seven across 8.1 innings.
Prior to that, Strasburg had tossed six Game 2 innings in which he allowed two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven.
Overall, Strasburg became the first pitcher in league history to go 5-0 in a single postseason. The 31-year-old right-hander is also the first No. 1 overall selection to win World Series MVP (h/t MLB Stats).
The records don't stop there:
Perhaps Strasburg's most pivotal moments came in the seventh and eighth innings of Game 6. The Nationals had just been robbed by a controversial call in the top of the seventh that declared Trea Turner out at first base for batter interference, which resulted in manager Dave Martinez's ejection.
While Anthony Rendon calmed some tempers with a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to extend the Nats' lead to 5-2, it was Strasburg who put the game in cruise control by retiring each of the next seven batters he faced.
Strasburg arguably could have notched a complete game, but Sean Doolittle replaced him in the bottom of the ninth after he got Yuli Gurriel to line out.
The Nationals had several different heroes at different junctures of this storybook postseason run, but Strasburg—and fellow starting pitcher Max Scherzer, who started Game 7 and went 3-0 with two no-decisions this postseason—was the glue.
And it's been a long time coming for Strasburg in Washington.
The organization drafted him in 2009 out of San Diego State. The San Diego native made his MLB debut in 2010, only to suffer a UCL tear in August that required Tommy John surgery. He returned on Sept. 6, 2011, but only started five games that year.
Strasburg started 28 games in 2012, going 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while on an innings limit. He was shut down for the remainder of the season on Sept. 8, 2012, even though Washington held the best record in the majors.
"You got to do what's right for the player," Nationals owner Mark Lerner said in 2015 (h/t ABC News). "The Nationals organization did what's right, and we stand by that."
As recently as last summer, injury concerns lingered around Strasburg. But that narrative gave way to his greatness come 2019, as he led the National League in the regular season with 18 wins and 209.0 innings pitched and maintained his dominance once the calendar hit October.
The Nats and Strasburg played the long game, and they were vindicated in the best way possible Wednesday night.