Stephen Strasburg completed his third major league start earlier tonight, allowing just one run over seven innings while striking out 10 as part of a no-decision against the White Sox. With President Obama — a White Sox fan — in attendance, the Nationals eventually lost the game 2-1 in 11 innings.
With the 10 strikeouts, Strasburg established a new rookie record with 32 strikeouts over his first three major league starts, passing J.R. Richard, who held the previous record with 29 over his first three starts with the Astros in 1971.
Strasburg gave up a quick run in the first inning on a groundout by Alex Rios, but he held the White Sox to just two hits from there. He retired 15 in a row at one point until giving up a single to Gavin Floyd to lead off the top of the sixth inning. And after issuing five free passes against the Indians on Sunday, he did not walk a batter on Friday.
Strasburg threw 59 out of 85 pitches for strikes and according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, he had 19 pitches at 98 mph or above and two at 100 mph.
The rookie right-hander has a 1.86 ERA and 32/5 K/BB ratio over his first three big league starts. He’s scheduled to take on the Royals next Wednesday.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.