Trevor Hoffman gets bases-loaded strikeout for 598th save

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John Axford has done a tremendous job since taking over for Trevor Hoffman as the Brewers’ closer in mid-May, going 7-1 while converting 18-of-20 saves with a 2.76 ERA and 50/20 K/BB ratio in 42.2 innings.
This afternoon, however, the 27-year-old rookie ran into trouble trying to close out a 3-0 lead over the Cardinals. So with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Brewers clinging to a 3-2 lead manager Ken Macha summoned Hoffman from the bullpen … and the all-time saves leader struck out Brendan Ryan on three pitches for his 598th career save.
Hoffman is highly unlikely to reclaim ninth-inning duties down the stretch, but since losing the gig to Axford he has a 3.46 ERA and .235 opponents’ batting average in 26 innings. He’s pitching well enough to at least make retiring or not his choice and my guess is that Macha will give Hoffman a shot to get the two more saves necessary to reach 600.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.