Stephen Strasburg made his latest and perhaps second-to-last Triple-A start last night, tossing 6.1 shutout innings against the Twins’ affiliate in Rochester, New York. My friend and former SABR convention roommate Ben Jacobs was in attendance and offered up this scouting report:
Strasburg touched 99 mph on the park gun a handful of times and worked consistently in the 96-98 range. He made several hitters look silly with his curveball, either freezing them on a pitch that dropped into the strike zone or getting them to swing at a pitch that ended up in the dirt. Throughout the night, he probably hit 15 numbers on the radar gun between 79 and 99.
He did struggle with wildness at times, walking two. In fact, after throwing 24 pitches in the game, he had thrown 12 strikes and 12 balls. He settled down after that, throwing 48 strikes and 20 balls the rest of the way. The Red Wings managed three hits … but none of them were hit hard.
The first hit was an infield single that third baseman Chris Lambin made a nice bare-handed play on, but Trevor Plouffe beat it out at first. The other two were grounders up the middle. In fact, the Red Wings only hit two balls hard all night off Strasburg: a line drive right at center fielder Justin Maxwell and a hot shot down the line on which Lambin made a beautiful diving snare.
Jacobs’ conclusion? “Strasburg has no business being in the minor leagues.”
With one start likely remaining until the Nationals are done suppressing his service time and call Strasburg up to Washington, he’s logged 18.1 scoreless innings in three outings at Triple-A and is 6-1 with a 0.89 ERA, .123 opponents’ batting average, and 49/10 K/BB ratio in 40.1 total innings as a minor leaguer.
The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.
The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.
The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.
The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.
The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”
Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.