Why not have Stephen Strasburg debut on June 1?

15 Comments

The idea already made plenty of sense. Now it seems like the obvious choice with Edwin Jackson getting inserted into Washington’s rotation.

Adding Jackson to a rotation that already included Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan gives the Nationals seven viable starters, with Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler currently in reserve (Tom Gorzelanny could also be included in that mix, but the Nationals view him strictly as a reliever now). The big issue, though, is that the best of those starters is only expected to throw about 160 innings this season after missing most of 2011 following Tommy John surgery.

So, if Strasburg starts the first week of the season and doesn’t miss any time, he’s probably going to run out of innings in mid-August. Which isn’t so bad if the Nationals are content to win 70 games this year. However, after adding Jackson and Gonzalez, the Nationals can at least dream of the wild card. The offense will need bounce-back seasons from Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, but the cause is hardly hopeless.

Which means the Nationals should just scratch Strasburg from spring training. Instead of having him start to gear up in mid-February, have him do it in mid-April instead. Such a plan would keep him available for the entire month of September and then into October, on the off chance the Nationals make it. They’ll certainly be willing to stretch that innings limit a bit if they get to the postseason.

And, yeah, I know a win in April is just as valuable as a win in September… such a strategy wouldn’t necessarily improve the Nationals’ record. But then again, it might. The Nationals’ other six starters are a whole lot more likely to all be healthy on April 1 than on September 1. Given their light workloads of late, Zimmermann and Wang in particular are candidates to wear down as the season goes on. A start that doesn’t go to Strasburg in April will go to Wang or Detwiler instead. A start that doesn’t go to Strasburg in September might instead go to Yunesky Maya or Craig Stammen.

There is one big con to my plan: what to do about Strasburg’s roster status during the two months he’s off. Strasburg has options left, so the Nationals have the ability to send him down to the minors. If they tried doing so, though, agent Scott Boras would likely pitch a fit and file a grievance since Strasburg would lose a couple of months of service time. It’d be better just to put him on the disabled list, allowing Strasburg to continue to accrue his service time. MLB doesn’t have such a provision for putting a healthy player on the DL, but since it can be argued that Strasburg is still completing his rehab from Tommy John surgery, maybe this one could slide.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.