Stephen Strasburg just finished his sixth major league start a short while ago, allowing two runs over five innings against the Mets. Not only was it the shortest outing of Strasburg’s brief major league career, but he managed a career-low five strikeouts.
After Strasburg labored through a 37-pitch first inning, it was pretty obvious he wouldn’t be long for this one. He issued three walks in the opening frame, the most notable of which was a 10-pitch at-bat by Josh Thole. Somehow, he was able to escape with just one run crossing the plate, courtesy of an RBI double by Jason Bay.
Things really could have been a lot worse, as he was able to get Jeff Francoeur to fly out with the bases loaded to end the inning. This, after nearly beheading Francoeur earlier in the at-bat. I’ll give Frenchy some credit for actually staying in the batter’s box after that pitch, because I probably would have needed a new pair of pants.
Strasburg retired the final seven batters he faced after allowing an RBI single to Thole in a 26-pitch third inning, but it was too little too late. He was pulled after throwing 64 of 96 pitches for strikes.
The 21-year-old right-hander now has a 2.45 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over his first six major league starts, posting a 53/10 K/BB ratio over 36 2/3 innings. He’ll wrap up the first half with a start against the Padres next Thursday.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.