A couple of weeks ago Stephen Strasburg said that he just wanted to be normal. One of the guys. To take his starts out from under the microscope and have them just sort of blend into the flow of the season. I presume he’ll get there one day, but for 2012, it seems, he’s still going to be something of a special case, as the Nationals have decided to put him on an innings limit.
Which is smart, by the way, even if it will lead to a lot of talk about whether the Nats are using him optimally and all of that. Talk which will be especially acute if, as many suspect, the Nats play a bigger role in the playoff chase next year.
But the thing is, they stand a great chance of making serious noise in the NL East beyond 2012 as well, and to that end it makes all kinds of sense to make sure that his reconstructed elbow builds to proper strength and endurance. So yeah, cut him off at 150-160 innings or so and then, in 2013, show the rest of the league the fully armed and operational Stephen Strasburg.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.