It took four seasons and 54 starts, but Stephen Strasburg finally threw a pitch in the eighth inning last night. And it came against his hometown Padres, in San Diego, where he dominated as a college star at San Diego State.
Prior to tossing eight innings of two-run ball versus the Padres he’d never worked past the seventh inning, but manager Davey Johnson let Strasburg throw 117 pitches. That’s actually not a career-high, as Strasburg threw 119 pitches in a six-inning outing against the Red Sox in June of last season.
Strasburg had gone seven innings in a start 10 times before last night, but never was allowed to begin the eighth inning despite seven of those starts involving fewer than 100 pitches and three of them involving fewer than 90 pitches.
It’s safe to say that any development-based and/or post-Tommy John surgery limitations have been lifted and Strasburg is now just a normal pitcher (at least in terms of workload). Up next on the agenda: His first complete game.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.