Strasburg overcomes rough first inning to blank Marlins over six

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I’m starting to wonder when a Stephen Strasburg start will no longer be a must-see event. We’re not quite there yet.

Strasburg improved to 4-2 by tossing six shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Marlins on Friday night. We’ve seen the young phenom struggle in the first inning a few times already and that pattern continued on Friday, as Strasburg walked two and threw a wild pitch in a 34-pitch opening frame. He managed to wiggle his way out of any damage and actually settled down quite nicely from there, holding the Fish to just four measly singles while striking out seven.

He was pulled after throwing a major league-high 99 pitches, 63 of them for strikes. It was the first scoreless outing of his major league career.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told Steve Dorsey of MLB.com that he was impressed by how Strasburg bounced back after a rough first inning.

“There’s been three or four times where in the first inning he’s been up
in the 30s in pitches, which is kind of a little agonizing for
everybody because we want him to be able to go six or seven innings,”
Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “But he really regrouped and
became a very tough challenge for the Marlins tonight. They had some
great at-bats against him in the first couple of innings, and as Stephen
has done before, he just got tougher and tougher as the game went
along.”

Strasburg now has a 2.03 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over his first eight big league starts. He already leads the Nationals with 68 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. 

Astros avoid arbitration with Mike Fiers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Starting pitcher Mike Fiers #54 of the Houston Astros walks to the dugout after pitching an inning during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 17, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Astros won the game 2-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.

Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.

Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.

Raines to wear an Expos cap, Pudge to wear a Rangers cap on their Hall of Fame plaques

1990:  Outfielder Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos in action. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
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There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.

Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.

Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.

With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.

Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.