Stephen Strasburg’s final start at Nationals Park this season ended up being a brief one, as he was chased after giving up five runs over just three innings tonight against the Marlins.
Strasburg wasn’t fooling anyone, giving up six hits and three walks while striking out two. He threw just 37 out of 67 pitches for strikes. Rob Brantly and Giancarlo Stanton both connected for solo homers. Stanton also touched him up for an RBI double.
Strasburg tied the shortest outing of his major league career tonight, as he previously pitched three innings on June 30 against the Braves and last September 11 against the Astros in his second start back from Tommy John surgery. His ERA is now at a season-high 3.16 while he’s up to 159 1/3 innings on the year. The Nationals intend to shut him down for the season after his start next Wednesday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.