UPDATE: Strasburg says goodbye, for now…

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Strasburg debut.jpgUPDATE: According to the Nationals’ official Twitter feed, Strasburg has been optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.  That’s that.

SATURDAY, 8:39pm: Stephen Strasburg just wrapped up what could be his last start of the spring with the Nationals.

He got off to a bit of a rough start, serving up a solo home run to Cardinals shortstop prospect Tyler Greene on the first pitch of the game — the first run he has allowed this spring — followed by a one-out home run by Allen Craig. But after that? Strasburg struck out seven of the final 12 batters he faced.

Strasburg’s final line for the night: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks

The 21-year-old has a 2.00 ERA and a 12/1 K/BB ratio in nine innings pitched this spring.

Those are some pretty darn impressive numbers, but Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider has what could oddly qualify to be the doozy of them all:

In three spring
starts totaling nine innings, Strasburg has not recorded a flyout. 13
groundouts, 1 popout, 12 strikeouts.

Wow. Strasburg might start the season in the minor leagues, but you can pretty much mark it down that he’ll main attraction in Washington by June.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.