Yu Darvish notches his fourth 14-strikeout game of the season

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Yu Darvish was flirting with history for a little while tonight, but he ended up notching his fourth 14-strikeout game of the season in a 7-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

In a thoroughly-dominating performance, Darvish gave up just five hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings for his 10th victory of the season. He had six strikeouts through the first two innings and struck out a pair in each of the next the four frames.

Our own Matthew Pouliot notes that Darvish has four of the six 14-strikeout games in MLB this season, with Chris Sale and Anibal Sanchez being the only others. Among Darvish’s 14-strikeout games, he has three where he hasn’t issued a walk. As Adam J. Norris of Lone Star Ball points out, that’s pretty darn rare for a career, let alone a single season.

Darvish is the seventh pitcher in history with at least four 14-strikeout games in a season, joining Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Sam McDowell, and Mark Langston. He currently leads the majors with 186 strikeouts in 138 2/3 innings and has reached double-digits in eight of his 21 starts.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.