Stephen Strasburg made his fourth start for the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon against the Royals, and it went about as well as you might expect.
The rookie phenom struck out nine batters, issued no walks and allowed only one run over six strong innings. He didn’t get to ball four on a single batter and 75 of his 95 pitches went for strikes. Of course, the Nats’ offense gave him exactly zero run support and he wound up with his first loss of the season.
Strasburg, 21, is now 2-1 with a 1.78 earned-run average, a 0.95 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 25.1 major league innings.
He earned strikeout No. 41 with a knee-buckling 83 MPH curveball to Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik, snapping a record held by Herb Score, who struck out 40 batters in his first four major league starts back in 1955. It’s no secret by now, but Strasburg has been historically good.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.
Manager Robin Ventura’s contract with the White Sox expires after the season, but the club will offer him a new contract if he wants to stay in Chicago, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports.
Ventura’s five seasons at the helm of the White Sox haven’t gone well. The club has crossed the 80-win threshold only once, in his first season back in 2012. Entering the final five games of the season, Ventura has a 373-432 record (463) overall.
The White Sox have also had a handful of controversies under Ventura’s watch, including the fiasco concerning Adam LaRoche and his son Drake, as well as Chris Sale‘s displeasure with wearing retro uniforms. Ventura is not exactly a fan favorite, either. It’s interesting that the White Sox want to keep him around, to say the least.