Stephen Strasburg throws . . . someone under the bus

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And really, it’s unclear who. Could be himself in some dissociative episode. Hard to say.

All I know is that on Friday night he pumped nothing but fastballs to Jason Heyward and, eventually, Heyward made him pay for it by hitting a key RBI double. After the game, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, Strasburg had this to say:

Why so many fastballs? “I guess it was the plan going in,” Strasburg said. “I don’t think it’s the right plan. But that’s what we went with.”

Sounds like he’s being critical of whoever chose that approach to Heyward. Except Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty said that “every one of these guys has the ability to go out and make pitches of what they want to do . . .  I don’t force, nor have I forced, any of these guys. They know how to pitch, and they’re trying to make the pitches they wanted to use.”

Fact: pitchers shake catchers off if they don’t like the pitch in a given situation. I have no idea who first decided to throw all those fastballs to Heyward, but it seems to me that Strasburg has the final say over what pitch to throw. And that, even if it’s pretty common for a pitcher and the catcher/pitching coach/manager to disagree on an approach, you normally don’t hear that disagreement bubbling out into public comments like these.

 

Bartolo Colon ain’t doing so hot this year

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If he wasn’t 44 years-old we’d just call it a slump, but the way Bartolo Colon is pitching right now makes you wonder if the end is nigh.

Colon was shelled this afternoon, giving up seven runs on ten hits and walking three in five innings of work to take the loss against the Pirates. That brings his ERA up to 6.96 on the year. He’s allowed five or more runs in five of his ten starts and opposing batters are hitting .320 against him. One of the big reasons he had been so effective into his 40s had been his low walk rate — he led the NL in this category for the past two seasons — but he’s walking more guys this year than last.

The Braves picked up Colon for the reasons a lot of rebuilding teams pick up veteran starters: to provide innings and stability until the younger arms of the future can mature. Colon, however, has been the weakest link of the Braves rotation.

At some point, every baseball player reaches the end. Almost all of them do it before the age of 44. One hopes, given his history and popularity that Colon is just experiencing a rough patch and that, by mid season, he’ll be reliably pumping strikes into the zone the way he has the past few seasons. But with each bad start he registers this year, that’s seeming like more and more of a stretch.

Braves designate Josh Collmenter for assignment

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Last night Braves reliever Josh Collmenter surrendered three homers and seven runs in the 10th inning of a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He came into the game when it was tied 5-5 so, yeah, ouch. Today Collmenter is on his way to no longer being a Braves reliever as he has been designated for assignment.

Collmenter made 11 appearances for the Braves, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 17 innings. If he doesn’t latch on someplace else he can take heart that his final act in the big leagues was striking out former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If only he hadn’t surrendered consecutive homers to David Freese, Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer just before that. Oh well. Take the good with the bad.

Right-hander Matt Wisler, who has been no great shakes in the bigs himself, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before today’s series finale against the Pirates. He’s currently throwing mopup duty for Bartolo Colon, who got shelled for seven runs in four innings.

Given how Colon is going, maybe the Braves will be thinking about some more transactions soon.