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What to watch tonight: Stephen Strasburg vs. Matt Harvey

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I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s Nationals-Mets game all week for the Stephen Strasburg-Matt Harvey matchup. Obviously arguments can be made for other guys, but for my money the 24-year-old Strasburg and the 24-year-old Harvey are the two young pitchers with the most upside in all of baseball.

Strasburg has made 48 career starts with a 2.94 ERA, .224 opponents’ batting average, and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Harvey has made 13 career starts with a 2.21 ERA, .173 opponents’ batting average, and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Among all starters with at least 75 innings since the beginning of last season Strasburg has the highest average fastball velocity at 95.7 miles per hour and Harvey ranks fourth at 94.6 miles per hour. They also rank No. 2 and No. 4 in strikeout rate during that span.

And better yet, here’s the all-time leaderboard for strikeouts per nine innings through age 24:

Kerry Wood           10.96
Stephen Strasburg    10.95
Brandon Beachy       10.57
Mark Prior           10.55
Matt Harvey          10.51

Strasburg and the Nationals are slight (-120) favorites over Harvey and the Mets.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.