Stephen Strasburg's return shows Nationals pitcher's new approach

      Stephen Strasburg came back last night, and it was almost as if he never left. In his first major league start since Tommy John surgery last year, the Washington Nationals pitcher allowed only two hits in five shutout innings of work. There was one difference, though: He may no longer be a flame-thrower.

      Instead of throwing 98-100 mph fastballs with a 90 mph changeup, Strasburg may reduce his velocity a bit{} down to only 97 and focus more on pinpoint accuracy, the Post reports.

      Strasburg's return start revealed his new approach. He averaged only 11.2 pitches per inning, lower than any of his starts in 2010. He averaged about 96.7 miles per hour with his four-seam fastball and 95.1 with his two-seamer. He focused not on striking out Dodgers hitters, but on inducing weak contact. He struck out four of the 17 hitters he faced.

      We may or may not see more 17 strikeout games, but fewer pitches thrown means hopefully, that we won't have to go through this ever again.