This afternoon’s Stephen Strasburg-Johan Santana matchup was every bit as fun to watch as it looked on paper.
Santana was very solid, albeit in another short outing, throwing five innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts despite averaging just 88.1 miles per hour with his fastball.
Strasburg was very shaky early on, but quickly got on track and overpowered the Mets with nine strikeouts in six shutout, two-hit innings. And for the first time as a big leaguer he was allowed to go past 100 pitches, throwing 108, as the Nationals went on to win 4-0.
Strasburg’s career was temporarily derailed by Tommy John elbow surgery, but he’s picked up right where he left off and has now thrown 37 innings with a 1.21 ERA since returning late last season. His average fastball today was 94.8 miles per hour and his changeup had ridiculous movement.
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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.