We’ve been lucky enough to witness a multitude of impressive pitching performances this season. Ubaldo Jimenez fired a no-hitter in early April and currently sits 11-1 on the year with a 0.93 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Those are historically good numbers.
Dallas Braden threw a perfect game on May 9 against the Rays, who have owned the best record in baseball for over a month. He has a 1.09 WHIP.
Roy Halladay, long considered the cream of the crop in the American League, is 8-3 over his first 12 starts in a Phillies uniform with 77 strikeouts and only 13 walks. He threw his first career perfecto in late May against the Marlins.
It has been a spectacular year for fans of dominant pitching, and let’s go ahead and add Stephen Strasburg’s name to the list of guys who are making it all happen. The 21-year-old kid — that’s right, kid — out of San Diego State University struck out 14 batters on Tuesday night in his major league debut and picked up his first career win. It should be the first of many.
Never has a pitcher struck out 14 batters without issuing a walk in a MLB debut. His 94th and final pitch was clocked at 98 MPH on the Nationals Park gun and he hit 99 MPH regularly throughout the night.
To say Strasburg was impressive would be an understatement. To say he’s “the real deal” would be spot-on. His hybrid slider-curve looks like a different pitch every time he throws it. His fastball has a foot of tailing action, even at 99 MPH. His changeup, which is still in its infancy, looks like a potential long-term out pitch. He pairs that all with a devastating sinker and he has an incredible amount of touch and feel for his entire arsenal.
This guy’s good. This guy is real good. The Nats may be years away from contending in the stacked-with-youngsters National League East, but that will change as Strasburg carves his way through opposing lineups, Ian Desmond grows into his role as the starting shortstop, and Drew Storen begins wrapping up games with confidence. Maybe Bryce Harper will even get on the fast track.
The Nationals arrived in the nation’s capital in 2005 and finally moved into their new stadium in 2008. But not until the night of June 8, 2010 did baseball truly get its welcome back to The District.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP