Stephen Strasburg quieted his critics last season, his seven shutout innings in the Nationals’ Game 4 of the National League Division Series victory capping a workmanlike season that saw the right-hander take the ball from opening day until final outing, the dominant start-to-finish season that had eluded him.

Yes, there were some speed bumps along the way, just to test his mettle. His spot in the rotation changed when staff ace Max Scherzer’s start of the season was delayed by a fractured knuckle, meaning Strasburg was pressed into service as the opening day starter. In the playoffs, Strasburg was under the weather, wasn’t going to pitch, then felt well enough to gut out a do-or-die start. And the Nationals were glad he did.

The season numbers - a 15-4 record, 2.52 ERA and 1.015 WHIP (both bests in any full season as a starter) - earned him acclaim as a finalist for the Cy Young Award that went to Scherzer. Strasburg was so confident that his teammate would win that he only Facetimed into the live MLB Network broadcast announcing the winner.

“I think physically, there was that little spot around the All-Star Game, but I’m glad with how I bounced back,” he said Sunday at Nationals Winterfest. “I think I progressed a little bit in that department with how my body works and what I need to do. I think it’s not satisfied by any means, but I think there’s more in the tank. So I’m excited. I was excited to get back to work as soon as the season was over, to keep trying to get better, keep getting stronger, and get out there next season.”

But Strasburg’s season might have been even more impressive were it not for a couple of starts - one before the All-Star break, one after - that stuck in his craw and toyed with his numbers. On June 23, he surrendered eight hits and a season-worst five earned runs in five innings in a 6-5 win over the Reds in D.C. In his second start after the All-Star break, Strasburg departed after two innings in Arizona, pulled as a precaution with right forearm stiffness.