Stephen Strasburg exits game with injury

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg left tonight’s game against the Braves after two innings due to an apparent back injury. The location of the injury is one part good news, one part bad news. The good: it’s not his elbow or shoulder, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes. The bad: Strasburg had dealt with back issues prior to tonight’s start. Kilgore also points out that Strasburg’s velocity dipped from 98 MPH to the mid-90’s within a span of several pitches. Craig Stammen relieved him in the third inning.

Strasburg entered the night with a 2.49 ERA in 72.1 innings, following up on an All-Star season in which he went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA. His ouster is particularly worrisome when taken in tandem with the news that Harper continues to be bothered by his left knee and may require a stint on the disabled list.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.