They’ll say it’s not about the money. But it’s very much about the money.
The Nationals have mapped out Stephen Strasburg’s September schedule, and in what should come as a surprise to no one, the plan is for him to keep pitching at Nationals Ballpark.
Strasburg, who made his season debut Tuesday against the Dodgers, was already set to pitch on four days’ rest Sunday against the Astros in D.C. He’ll make his subsequent two starts on five days’ rest Sept. 17 against the Marlins and Sept. 23 against the Braves.
If all three outings go as hoped, the Nats said there’s a chance he could start Sept. 28 in Florida in what will be the team’s season finale. Still, that’s not part of the plan at this point.
Unless Strasburg makes that start, all four of his September outings will have come at home. And who can blame the Nats for trying to work things out that way? Half the reason they made the announcement now is to try to sell tickets for those dates. There just isn’t much other reason for Nationals fans to head to the ballpark at the moment.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.