Coming into the season three prospects stood out above all the rest: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, and Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Every major prospect analyst had them 1-2-3 on their list, with the only differences being the order. Baseball America ranked them Harper, Moore, Trout. ESPN.com ranked them Trout, Harper, Moore. Baseball Prospectus ranked them Moore, Harper, Trout.
Harper and Trout have been making headlines all season by performing remarkably well for a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, but Moore has mostly gone unnoticed in Tampa Bay despite the fact that he’s pitching pretty damn well for a 22-year-old.
He got off to a slow start and has a misleadingly ugly 2-5 record, but after six strong innings against the Orioles on Sunday he has a 4.45 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 63 innings overall. That isn’t going to bump Harper or Trout off the front page, but in the grand scheme of things a 22-year-old rookie striking out a batter per inning with a decent ERA bodes extremely well for his future.
Moore just happened to be a rookie during a season in which two of the best prospects in recent memory are also rookies and have thrived immediately. Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season with numbers that would make him a viable Rookie of the Year candidate in many years and don’t be surprised if he’s still an ace very soon.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”
Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.
Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.
Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.
Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.
So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.