Bill Baer

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the fifth inning during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on July 21, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg from the disabled list

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The Nationals announced that starter Stephen Strasburg has been activated from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Wednesday night’s start against the Braves. The right-hander missed just over two weeks due to right elbow discomfort.

Infielder Stephen Drew joined Strasburg in returning from the disabled list on Wednesday as well.

Strasburg resumes with a 15-4 record, a 3.59 ERA, and a 179/44 K/BB ratio in 145 1/3 innings. He would’ve been in the National League Cy Young Award conversation, but an abysmal month of August saw his ERA balloon from 2.63 to 3.59.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Jameson Taillon #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on September 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Justin Berl/Getty Images

Jameson Taillon, your city needs you. The 67-69 Pirates have lost eight games in a row, falling an insurmountable 21 games out of first place in the NL Central. They’re also now 5.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card slot and even the injury-plagued Mets are closer to that than the Pirates are.

The Pirates, simply, haven’t been hitting. While they scored seven runs in Tuesday’s loss and six runs in Monday’s loss, the club has been shut out three times during their current eight-game skid, including twice by the lowly Brewers. The pitching has been abysmal, yielding an aggregate 38 runs over their last four games.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the team’s failure, however, may be closer Tony Watson. The Pirates traded soon-to-be free agent Mark Melancon to the Nationals on July 30, opening up the door for Watson to take over as the closer. To that point, Watson had a 2.64 ERA and a 39/15 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings, mostly serving as the set-up man for Melancon. Since taking over as the closer, Watson has a 5.02 ERA and a 10/5 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings. He’s given up five home runs, including three in the ninth inning on Tuesday night to the Cardinals in a devastating 9-7 loss.

There are 26 games left in the regular season for the Pirates. Let’s hypothetically and very generously say they go 16-10 (.615), putting them at 83-79. They would need the Giants to go 8-16 (.333) or worse or the Cardinals to go 9-16 (.360) or worse, and the Mets to go 9-14 (.391) or worse. Furthermore, the Marlins (six games out) could win no more than 14 of their remaining 23 games (.607). Similarly, the Rockies (7.5 games out) could win no more than 16 of their remaining 24 (.667). In other words, in order for the Pirates to sneak into the postseason, they need four out of five teams in the NL Wild Card race to hit the skids starting now.

Note: Records used are prior to Wednesday afternoon’s games.

The odds are against them, but stranger things have happened in September. Ask the 2007 Mets. Taillon starts for the Buccos tonight at home against the Cardinals’ Mike Leake in a 7:05 PM EDT start.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman) @ New York Yankees (Bryan Mitchell), 7:05 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ Miami Marlins (Andrew Cashner), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Mike Montgomery) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Matt Garza), 8:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy) @ Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson), 8:10 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Albert Suarez) @ Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa), 8:40 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ San Diego Padres (Jarred Cosart), 9:10 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Brock Stewart), 10:10 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (A.J. Griffin) @ Seattle Mariners (Ariel Miranda), 10:10 PM EDT

Anthony Rizzo owns Wily Peralta

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on August 09, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo entered Tuesday night’s game against the Brewers with staggeringly good numbers against starter Wily Peralta. In 33 at-bats, Rizzo had four walks, three doubles, five homers, and 11 RBI along with a 1.719 OPS.

The numbers are such an anomaly that Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper had just gotten done listing them to fans when Rizzo cranked a 97 MPH Peralta fastball to the opposite field for a solo home run in the first inning at Miller Park. Rizzo came back up to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on second base and turned on a 95 MPH Peralta fastball, launching it off of the facade of the third deck in right field.

Rizzo finished 2-for-4 with the two homers and three RBI in the Cubs’ 12-5 loss to the Brewers. For those keeping score at home, Rizzo now has a .500/.568/1.250 triple-slash line against Peralta in 37 plate appearances with seven home runs and 14 RBI. Yes, that 1.250 mark is his slugging percentage, not his OPS.

Peralta has had a tough couple of years. After posting a 4.72 ERA last season, he’s currently sitting with an ugly 5.47 ERA this year. Peralta is on pace to face the Cubs again on Friday, September 16, a date which Rizzo surely has marked on his calendar.