Well, Stephen Strasburg just passed his latest test with flying colors.
Strasburg allowed just two hits over three shutout innings tonight for High-A Potomac, striking out five and walking none. Both hits were infield singles.
The plan was for Strasburg to throw either five innings or 50 pitches, so he was pulled after throwing 26 out of 33 pitches for strikes. He was so efficient that he was sent to the bullpen to throw another inning’s worth of pitches.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Strasburg consistently sat around 98 mph on his fastball in the first inning and topped out at 99 mph to record a strikeout in the second inning. While he drew the usual raves for his knee-buckling curveball, he also recorded a pair of strikeouts in his final inning on 90 mph changeups. 90 mph changeups? Yep, they’re back.
Strasburg has allowed one run and struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings over his first two rehab starts. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to pitch in the major leagues in September.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.