The Strasburg Watch: Amazing year ends with loss

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Stephen Strasburg started the NCAA tournament opener for San Diego
State on Friday night and the game against Virginia was televised on
ESPN Classic, giving many people their first look at the phenom who’ll
be the No. 1 overall pick next week.

Virginia jumped on Strasburg early with a solo homer in the first
inning and then turned two singles and two wild pitches into another
run in the second frame.

Strasburg was pretty much untouchable after that, using his high-90s
fastball and video game-like slider to rack up 15 strikeouts and zero
walks over seven innings, but enough damage was already done.

San Diego State’s offense couldn’t break through against Virginia
starter Robert Morey and the bullpen coughed up three runs once
Strasburg departed, leading to a 5-1 loss. The Aztecs staved off elimination Saturday with a win over Fresno State, but were knocked out of the tournament yesterday with a 14-3 loss to UC Irvine.

Strasburg’s college career isn’t officially over yet because he’s just
a junior, but there’s little chance of him returning for another season
even if contract negotiations with the Nationals break down. Despite
finishing on a losing note, Strasburg was dominant even in defeat and
ends his historic season 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 195/19 K/BB ratio in
109 innings.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.