Whenever someone wins their 300th game, we get a bunch of “no one will ever win 300 games again” columns. They’re fun until the next guy wins 300, which someone always has.
I haven’t seen any “no one will hit 600 homers again” pieces, but I imagine someone is toying with one as we speak. They’ll have to work hard to explain away Albert Pujols who, after a weak 50 games to begin the season is back to being his same old self and would seem to be a lock for 600 one day, but it’s not that hard to imagine someone getting hit by a bus.
Anyway, against that backdrop the great Dan Szymborski — and he really is great — has a column up over at ESPN.com (sadly behind the paywall, but his work is worth the price) projecting who among active players may hit 600.
I’ll give away this much: he has Pujols at 95 percent. Then it’s a huge dropoff to Miguel Cabrera at 47 percent and a bunch of guys way lower than that, either because they’re painfully young (Mike Stanton), are a bit old and too far away at the moment (Ryan Howard) are not projected to age well (Prince Fielder) or because they’ve fallen off a cliff (Adam Dunn).
I’m a little more optimistic about Fielder aging well — call me crazy — but it’s a good list and breakdown.
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.
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.