Stephen Strasburg brilliant again in latest rehab outing

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Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was dominant in his sixth minor league rehab start Thursday evening at Double-A Harrisburg.

According to Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times, the 23-year-old phenom surrendered just one hit over six scoreless innings while reaching 99 mph with his fastball. Strasburg threw 55 of his 71 pitches for strikes, fanning four opposing batters and yielding just one free pass via a hit-by-pitch. He induced seven groundball outs and four flyouts.

Strasburg threw five innings of one-run ball last time out at Triple-A Syracuse and seems to be growing more and more comfortable executing his full arsenal of pitches. In fact, 15 of his final 36 deliveries Thursday were either curveballs or changeups.

Strasburg is on track to return to the major leagues next Tuesday against the Dodgers. He’d probably do well to build his pitch count with one or two more rehab appearances, but the Nationals are excited about filling their stadium a couple of times down the stretch and don’t believe he’s in danger of re-injury. The former No. 1 overall draft pick underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on September 3, 2010.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.