Strasburg strong in return from injury

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Making his first Arizona Fall League start in 12 days, Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg blanked the Peoria Saguaros over 3 1/3 innings on Saturday, allowing just one hit while striking out six and walking two.



Strasburg tossed 36 of 64 pitches
for strikes while his fastball was clocked as high as 99 mph. The
20-year-old was scheduled to pitch last Saturday’s “Rising Stars Game,”
but was scratched after suffering a stiff neck.




“It was a good day. My goal was just to go out there and pound it in the strike zone,” Strasburg said.



Strasburg’s 4.26 ERA over 19 innings
might not jump out at you, but take out one hiccup against Peoria on
October 22 (seven runs allowed in 2 2/3 innings) and he is a much more
impressive 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA. Strasburg’s four wins lead the AFL,
while his 23 strikeouts in 19 innings ranks third.




While Strasburg was denied the stage
of the “Rising Stars Game,” his next start will most likely come in
next Saturday’s AFL championship game. Strasburg’s team, the Phoenix
Desert Dogs, have a four-game lead on the Eastern division title with
five games left on the docket.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.