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.

 

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.