The Nationals have shut down Stephen Strasburg effective immediately

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UPDATE: From Davey Johnson’s comments after last night’s game, it sounded like Stephen Strasburg might get an extra start, but the Nationals are actually pulling the plug early. According to Byron Kerr of MASN, Johnson just announced that Strasburg has been shut down effective immediately.

Strasburg was previously scheduled to make his final start of the season Wednesday against the Mets, but Johnson expressed concern after last night’s game that the controversy over the looming shutdown was effecting his performance. He will finish his season with a 15-6 record to go along with a 3.16 ERA and 197/48 K/BB ratio over 159 1/3 innings. John Lannan is expected to take his place in the starting rotation down the stretch.

10:44 AM: Stephen Strasburg’s impending shutdown was the big topic of conversation after he gave up five runs over just three innings last night against the Marlins. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson thinks the whole situation is weighing on Strasburg’s mind.

“To be honest with you, I think he was thinking too much about the decision of what we were going to shut him down,” Davey Johnson said. “And he kind wore it like it. … I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shutdown. Just he way I read it.”

Strasburg said after the game that the looming shutdown had no impact on his performance last night, but Johnson said the young right-hander is “having trouble sleeping, thinking about letting the guys down.” He is currently slated to make his final start of the season Wednesday against the Mets, but Johnson said that last night’s abbreviated outing “might” make the Nationals reconsider their plan.

It’s hard to see how dragging this issue out for say, one extra start, is beneficial to anyone involved, but it looks like the Nationals want him to at least finish his season on a high note. The 24-year-old is currently at 159 1/3 innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.16 ERA on the year, including a 3.73 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.

Odubel Herrera flips his bat on a fly ball, gets benched for lack of hustle

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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a polarizing figure in his young career. He’s talented and at times has shined, inspiring the Phillies to give him a long term contract this past offseason. At other times, however, he’s aggravated the snot out of his manager, his teammates and his team’s fans. Last night, in the Phillies-Astros game, he did the latter and was the subject of mockery of the opposing team to boot.

In the first inning he hit a long fly ball to center. He thought it was going out but . . . it didn’t. When the ball came off of his bat, however, he flipped his bat like he went yard. You know our view about bat flips — who cares? Flip away! — but you flip at your own risk. Just because you’re allowed to flip it whenever you want doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get mocked if you flip prematurely. That’s what Herrera did, and he was mocked for the flip by the Astros from the dugout:

If that was all that happened in the game, life would go on just fine. I mean, it’s just a bat flip. But later in the game he committed a more substantive transgression: he failed to hustle in a hustle situation.

In the sixth inning Herrera struck out swinging on a 1-2 curveball. The catcher didn’t hold on to it, though, and the ball went in the dirt. Herrera didn’t bother to run to first base and Pete Mackanin pulled Herrera from the game in a double switch right after that. Asked if Herrera was benched for not running that ball out, Mackanin said “It had something to do with it . . . I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.”

If you’re a veteran and you have hamstring issues or something you can take a dropped strike three off and no one is gonna say anything. If you’re hitting like Herrera has been hitting of late (i.e. pretty well) and you otherwise have no issues with your manager along these lines, it’s doubtful anyone will hold that sort of play against you either as long as it’s an isolated incident.

Herrera is not in that position, however. He’s raised Mackanin’s ire in the past for ignoring signs and taking what Mackanin believed to be a lackadaisical approach to the game. Whether that’s a fair assessment of Herrera or not — we can’t fully know everything about their interaction from the outside — is sort of beside the point. He has to know by now that Mackanin is going to get after him for that stuff and he has to know that him not being in the game is neither good for the Phillies or for Herrera.

Are these growing pains or a signs of a growing problem? That, it would seem, is up to Odubel Herrera.

Video: Minor leaguer bounces a home run off of an outfielder’s head

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Jose Canseco hit 462 homers, was the 1986 Rookie of the Year, the 1988 MVP and played for 17 years in the big leagues, winning two World Series rings and making the playoffs five times. Yet he’s not remembered for any of that. At least not very often.

No, he’s remembered for his ignominy. For his role in participating in and, subsequently, exposing baseball’s PED-fueled world of the 1990s. For his continued insistence that he was blackballed by Major League Baseball and his continued attempts to play via the independent league route. For his crazy post-playing career antics in which he spent a few years tweeting about aliens, conspiracy theories and non-sequiturs of every stripe.

Mostly, though, people remember Canseco for one random play: the time he helped the Indians’ Carlos Martinez to a home run when a fly ball bounced off of Canseco’s head and over the wall back in 1993:

 

Well, Canseco now has a friend in infamy. That friend: Zach Borenstein of the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. Yesterday Borenstein pulled a Canseco on what should’ve been an Alex Verdugo F-9:

Borenstein’s glove may have gotten a piece of that — the announcer seemed to think so anyway — and I have a hard time figuring that his head would give it that much bounce. I mean, look how far he was from the wall! He wasn’t even to the warning track. That’s a serious assist.

Still: gonna rule this a Canseco anyway. It’s too good not to.