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.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.