Stephen Strasburg will start Opening Day for Nationals

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Gio Gonzalez led the NL with 21 wins last season and finished third in the Cy Young voting, but manager Davey Johnson announced that the Nationals will go with Stephen Strasburg as their Opening Day starter.

Strasburg got the Opening Day assignment last season as well and tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Cubs before leaving after 82 pitches.

Last year Strasburg was shut down after throwing 159.1 innings because the Nationals wanted to limit the 24-year-old’s workload in his first full season back from Tommy John elbow surgery, but he’s expected to be without limits in 2013.

Strasburg hasn’t missed a beat since returning from elbow surgery, making 33 starts with a 2.95 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings while averaging 95.8 miles per hour on his fastball.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.