With a fifth-inning strikeout of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg became the third-fastest — in terms of innings pitched — to reach 500 career strikeouts, tweets James Wagner of the Washington Post. The two to do it faster: former Cubs teammates Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
Strasburg entered tonight’s start with a 2.96 ERA in 28 starts. If not for outstanding season-long performances by Clayton Kershaw, Jose Fernandez, and Matt Harvey, Strasburg would have been in the conversation for the NL Cy Young award as predicted before the season started.
The Nationals are still holding on to the smallest sliver of hope to get into the playoffs, trailing in the Wild Card race by 5.5 games. However, their elimination number is two, meaning they could be relegated to October golf sessions as soon as tomorrow afternoon.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.