Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg hit a new franchise milestone on Sunday afternoon, extending his scoreless streak to a record 34 innings as the Nats clinched their weekend series on a 3-2 nail-biter against the Phillies. His 34 scoreless innings are the longest such stretch among any major league starter in 2017, eclipsing Robbie Ray‘s 27 2/3 scoreless streak back in May. All told, Strasburg’s efforts spanned 19 hits, four walks and 41 strikeouts and he exited Sunday’s outing with the streak still intact.
Strasburg stifled the Phillies at the plate, fanning Nick Williams on three straight pitches to end the first inning and taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning, where Maikel Franco worked an eight-pitch count before lining a single into left field. Franco returned in the eighth for the Phillies’ second hit of the afternoon, but found himself unable to advance a second time after Aaron Altherr grounded into a double play.
The only blemish on Strasburg’s performance? Not a hit, a walk or a run, but this observation:
If anything is wrong with Strasburg’s arm, however, the Nationals have yet to address it. He was able to pitch through the eighth with little trouble and finished the 34-inning streak after battling through a nine-pitch at-bat to get a groundout from Jorge Alfaro.
Not surprisingly, the streak places the ace in pretty good company:
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.