The Week Ahead: The Strasburg era begins

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Finally, it’s Stephen Strasburg time.

On Tuesday, the man with the million-dollar arm (or $50 million, if
Scott Boras gets his way) will be the first player selected in the
First-Year Player Draft.

After months of hype and wonder over Strasburg, he of the 100-mph
fastball and ridiculous control, he’ll finally be a pro. Well not
exactly. He’ll have to sign first, and don’t expect that to happen
quickly. But you get the point.

The MLB draft obviously doesn’t compare to the NFL or the NBA when
it comes to hype and excitement, but the presence of Strasburg, the
greatest pitching prospect since — well maybe, ever? – should make Tuesday fun.

After the Nats make him the top pick, things will get a little more
complicated, as teams stock up on more mortal talents like Dustin
Ackley and Aaron Crow.

You can see a nice mock draft here, and a good list of the top 33 prospects here.

There’s yet another list here.

On Tuesday, return to Circling the Bases for a recap of the draft. You’ll be able to find bios of the top players on Rotoworld.com.

Now, on to a great week of baseball action …

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH

  • Yankees at Red Sox, June 9-11: They’re the top two teams in
    the AL East, fierce rivals, and longtime antagonists. Their fans hate
    each other even more than the players do. What’s not to like?
  • Phillies at Mets, June 9-11:
    These two teams have been trying to create their own version of Red
    Sox-Yankees. And while it hasn’t reached that level, it still makes for
    some entertaining baseball. It helps, too, that they’re No. 1 and 2 in
    the NL East.
  • Mets at Yankees, June 12-14: In the latest version of the Subway Series, these two teams bring their rivalry to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time.
  • Red Sox at Phillies, June 12-14:
    Could this be a preview of the World Series? Way too early to say, of
    course, but it’s an interesting idea to think about. Also gives Boston
    a chance to rest Big Papi.
  • Dodgers at Rangers, June 12-14: Heck, maybe THIS matchup is a
    World Series preview. The Dodgers are dominating the NL, and the
    Rangers just keep on making fools out of everyone who expects them to
    start losing.

    ON THE TUBE

    Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Rays at Yankees (ESPN)
    Wednesday, 7:10 p.m.: Yankees at Red Sox (ESPN)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Cardinals at Indians (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: White Sox at Brewers (FOX)
    *Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Mets at Yankees (FOX)
    Sunday, 1 p.m.: Mets at Yankees (TBS)
    Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Cardinals at Indians (ESPN)

    *Check local listings

    And finally, for some fantasy tips for this week, click here.

  • Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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    Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

    While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

     

    When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

    Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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    Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

    More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

    Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

    It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.