Pedro is looking good

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The Phillies have won ten in a row, the Mets stink, and even though I’m
a fan, I’m not sure the Braves have a high enough gear in their
transmission to catch up. In light of that, Philadelphia probably doesn’t need much more help this season. Unfortunately for their competition, however, they look like they could be getting it:

Pedro Martinez has taken a “really big step” forward after throwing
64 pitches over four innings in a simulated game. The Philadelphia
Phillies’ new right-hander faced hitters for the first time in 11 days
on Tuesday and afterwards said he was excited about the outing.

“Real, real good,” Martinez said. “Four innings, I was able to do
that. I didn’t feel tired. I felt like I could still do a little bit
more.”

Yeah, anyone can feel good at the driving range and then go out and hit
for crap, but the fact that Pedro felt good after throwing that many
pitches is a good sign. Given his stamina issues over the past couple
of years I’m dubious that he’ll be a truly effective starter, but if
Charlie Manuel can break conventional bullpen habits, Martinez could
certainly be useful as an uber-reliever, serving as a setup guy
sometimes, a spot starter other times and a secondary closer whenever
the need arises. Kind of a Swiss Army knife of a swingman, deployed in
such a way as to better preserve the other arms and to maybe even allow
starters to come back on shorter rest during the playoffs.

Little things like that can make the difference.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”