Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke with Stephen Strasburg recently, and Strasburg said something that — though no one has really mentioned it — seems super obvious the minute Strasburg says it:
I just need to keep working to get into a routine to where it’s just auto-pilot. Answer the bell every fifth day. Kind of just get into the monotony of it, not really focusing on, like, ‘Oh, here’s his next start, Strasburg strikes again’ or whatever. It’s a ton of starts that you get in the big leagues. It’s a long road. It’s a grind. That’s kind of what I’m looking forward to. It’s still kind of the whole atmosphere of like, all the hype and stuff when I’m pitching.”
It’s true that every one of his starts has been a big event. And that’s kind of nuts. Even the top flight starters in baseball don’t get that treatment. Guys like CC Sabathia are allowed to just do their thing, with most of us looking up after a month of not paying attention to see that he has logged six starts, 43 innings and struck out a ton of dudes, all while getting the work of the season under his belt.
You can’t really quantify how stuff like “there are 15 extra reporters here and several thousand flashbulbs popping every time I pitch” affects a guy’s performance and preparation. But it’d be silly to think it has no effect. How lucky Strasburg will be when he gets a chance to simply be a joe jobber in the middle of June at some point.
The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.
The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.
Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.