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.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.