Still having trouble believing that Stephen Strasburg will be shut down before the season’s over

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Nats GM Mike Rizzo said earlier this year that they were going to shut down Stephen Strasburg at 160 innings.  The Nats, of course, are in first place and look absolutely legit.  So it made sense for Joel Sherman of the New York Post to ask Rizzo if he’s still feeling cool with shutting Strasburg down. Yep:

When we talked by phone yesterday and the topic was broached, Rizzo said, “Joel, you are killing me.” Then he promised, “This is the last time I am discussing this with any member of the media. It is well-chronicled. It is not changing … To ask [Strasburg] to throw 200 innings now [off those previous totals], that is not a prudent way to do business with a 23-year-old, top-of-the-rotation starter we plan to have for a long time. It’s is going to be painful, and we are going to take grief. But I will not shy away from it. I am the caretaker of this organization for the long haul.”

I totally understand the logic there. But I will totally understand the outrage if, in the middle of a playoff push that could lead to a World Series run, the Nats put their best pitcher on the shelf.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Nats lost out on a playoff spot by a couple of games after seeing Chien-Ming Wang get six or seven starts he wouldn’t have otherwise had?

The long-term health of Stephen Strasburg is essential to the future of the Nationals franchise. But so too is not pissing off your fans.  I don’t envy Mike Rizzo in having to make that decision, but I think I’d keep a more open mind about things than he seems to have now.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.