ORLANDO, Fla. -- By the end of the 2017 season, there was perhaps no more dominant pitcher in all of Major League Baseball than Stephen Strasburg. No one posted a lower ERA than Strasburg's 0.86 mark following the All-Star break, which included a streak of 35 consecutive scoreless innings.
The way Strasburg's season concluded is a major reason why he is one of three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award, the winner of which will be revealed Wednesday night on MLB Network. Strasburg's competition includes his teammate Max Scherzer, who won the award last year, and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, a three-time winner.
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Strasburg is looking to win the award for the first time in his eight-year career after one of his healthiest seasons. He made 28 starts and struck out 204 batters in 175 1/3 innings with a 2.52 ERA and a 2.72 Fielding Independent Pitching mark. As batters around MLB put up record-setting home run numbers, Strasburg lead the Majors by holding opposing hitters to 0.67 home runs per nine innings.
It's not like Strasburg's first half was bad, either, considering he made the NL All-Star team for the third time in his career. But after a three-week stint on the disabled list ended in August, he began his strong run to finish the season. In 10 starts after the break, Strasburg struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings and held opposing batters to a .457 OPS. His scoreless-inning streak was the longest in franchise history and the longest for any pitcher since 2015, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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Strasburg's case is hindered a bit by the time he spent on the DL with a nerve impingement in his right elbow, which gives pitchers such as Scherzer an edge in innings pitched. However, once Strasburg got healthy in the second half, there was nobody better.
Consider Strasburg's performance during the 2017 postseason, which will not factor into the voting for this award, but does offer a glimpse of how dominant he was by the end of the season. In two starts, he did not allow an earned run over 14 innings while striking out 22 with three walks.
"Basically anyone who goes into the batting cage and doesn't know how to hit -- that's what it feels like," Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said during the NL Division Series about facing Strasburg.
That dominant run Strasburg completed to end of the season will earn him his highest finish in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award in his career.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.