Last week I wrote about Carlos Zambrano tying Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson for the seventh-most homers by a pitcher in baseball history, but when Zambrano tweaked his back Saturday manager Ozzie Guillen suddenly wasn’t so interested in his power potential.
Here’s what Guillen told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com:
We’re going to cut down on his swings. He ain’t swinging no more. He’s done with that. Now he’s just going to bunt, bunt, and bunt. No more home run derby for him. You see Carlos, Carlos puts on a show when he hits. He does. That’s why we have to control that and make sure. I’m not going to say he’s not going to hit, but I don’t want him to. You don’t win games in batting practice. I don’t want him to start swinging the bat like that.
Zambrano has 24 homers in 682 at-bats and while his career .640 OPS is in backup catcher/utility infielder territory that production has been worth 75-100 runs more than a typical pitcher at the plate during that time. In other words, asking Zambrano not to take such big hacks might help him avoid some injuries but it would also take plenty of runs off the board for the Marlins’ lineup.
Zambrano’s next start is against the Rays under AL rules, so Guillen won’t have to worry about him hacking for a little while.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.
Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.
The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.
Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.
Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.
Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.