Ryan Zimmerman needing a stint on the disabled list certainly isn’t a surprise considering the third baseman’s shoulder injury hasn’t shown any improvement, but the Nationals’ choice to replace him on the roster is a shocker.
General manager Mike Rizzo announced that Bryce Harper will be called up from Triple-A tomorrow to make his MLB debut this weekend at Dodger Stadium, which seemingly comes out of nowhere given that the top prospect was hitting just .250 with a .333 on-base percentage and .375 slugging percentage in 20 games at Triple-A.
Despite that lackluster production, Harper is coming to the majors at age 19 and with a grand total of 57 games above Single-A. Presumably the Nationals wouldn’t call him up to do anything but play every day, which means Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, and Xavier Nady will lose outfield playing time and Mark DeRosa may see most of his remaining action paired with Chad Tracy at third base.
Harper’s arrival is coming significantly sooner and after significantly less success at Triple-A than anyone could have expected, with Rizzo admitting that “this isn’t the optimal situation developmentally.” However, it’s also worth noting that by keeping him in the minors for even a few weeks the Nationals have likely delayed his eventual free agency by an extra year.
UPDATE: Adding to the drama? Stephen Strasburg will be on the mound for the Nationals tomorrow.
UPDATE #2: Rizzo said the plan is for Harper to play left field, where he started just two twice in 20 games at Triple-A, and the GM indicated that there’s no guarantee he’ll stay in the majors once Zimmerman returns.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”