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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.