Stephen Strasburg appears likely to miss another start

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As Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington notes, Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to make his scheduled start Sunday against the Phillies.

Starting pitchers usually require a bullpen session a few days before they take the mound and the Nats have shut their prized right-hander down indefinitely.  Even if he’s cleared to throw Friday, the Nationals won’t want to rush him into a Sunday afternoon start. 

Zuckerman asked manager Jim Riggleman if he would be surprised to see Strasburg take the mound against the Phils, and here was his response:

“I don’t want to say I’ll be surprised, because then if I pitch him
Sunday, it contradicts itself. But as you said, we’ve been cautious, and
we’ll continue to be cautious.”

Strasburg was scratched Monday after reporting soreness in his throwing shoulder and he was later revealed to have a bit of inflammation.  He is already the face of the franchise in Washington and the Nats aren’t chasing a pennant this season.  We would be shocked if he pitches before Monday of next week, when the Nationals kick off a four-game series in Arizona.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

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I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.