The nail-biting Bryce Harper negotiation ended with . . . pie

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Adam Kilgore has the breakdown of the up-to-the-deadline Bryce Harper negotiations that resulted in his signing last night.

It’s a good read because Kilgore is a good reporter. Still, I can’t help but think that Stan Kasten and Mike Rizzo are milking this a bit. I’d really like to catch Boras or those guys in an unguarded moment and find out what, exactly, was left to negotiate at 11:59 or whatever it was.

My skepticism is just that — skepticism — not doubt based on some concrete information of any kind. I just can’t help but feel that these things are 99% done and that each side has an incentive to push things up to the deadline even if everyone at the table knows that a deal is in place.

A bit of a detail that adds to my skepticism: Kasten and Rizzo had the whole pie-in-the-face and silver Elvis wig thing ready in the conference room when the deal was announced (pic). If the outcome of the negotiations was in doubt would they have that routine ready?

And yes, I realize I’m being a bit of a killjoy here. I just don’t take much of a shine to midnight deadlines and all of the drama — some real, much of it manufactured — they often entail.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.