Nationals set to promote Stephen Strasburg from Double-A to Triple-A

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Stephen Strasburg will make his final Double-A start tomorrow, with a Nationals source telling MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that the 21-year-old phenom will be promoted to Triple-A following the game.
Strasburg has more than earned the promotion by absolutely toying with Double-A hitters, going 3-0 with a 0.52 ERA, .115 opponents’ batting average, and 23/3 K/BB ratio in four starts. He’ll be pitted against a few more veterans in the International League, but as general manager Mike Rizzo admitted earlier this week Triple-A is ultimately little more than a holding pen until the Nationals are ready to call him up.

As he progresses, he’s going to go to [Triple-A] Syracuse and is going to pitch there until we deem he is ready to go to the next level. It’s reasonable to assume he is going to be in Syracuse sometime soon. He is doing everything we thought he would do and more. He seems to get better and better and stronger and stronger each start.

With the Nationals surprisingly above .500 and Strasburg’s service time nearly suppressed long enough to delay free agency, he seems likely to spend just a month or so at Triple-A. He’ll be limited to about 85 pitches in his final Double-A outing tomorrow, so stretching him out to 100-plus pitches at Triple-A will be one of the final steps before the Strasburg era begins in Washington.

Manny Machado rips MLB Network talking heads over double standards

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Manny Machado has had his fair share of controversies. There was the stuff about his lack of hustle last fall. He’s thrown bats and ran into and over guys and has argued with umpires and all of that stuff. Is he well-liked? Not really. Is he a dirty player? Some say so. But even if you don’t say so, he’s been involved in some dirty plays and he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. We chronicled much of that last fall.

But he’s certainly not the only guy who has done that sort of thing before. Others have and, I think it’s fair to say, others have not caught as much flak for it as he has. There are reasons for that too, of course. Part of it is that a couple of Machado’s transgressions came in very high-profile situations like last year’s playoffs. Part of it is that he’s a big star who makes a lot of money and guys like that tend to get more attention and heat than others. Part of it is that a lot people simply don’t like Machado for whatever reason.

Machado talked at length about that last night when he took to Instagram to mock MLB Network analysts Eric Byrnes and Dan Plesac, who were going on about the Jake Marisnick plunking and his barreling into Jonathan Lucroy that led to it. Byrnes and Plesac were defending Marisnick. Machado noted that he would never have gotten that kind of defense had it been him doing the barreling instead of Marisnick.

Watch (warning: NSFW language):

 

I don’t think he’s wrong about that. Again, some of it would be justified in that Machado does have a reputation and when you have a reputation you don’t get as much benefit of the doubt. But it’s also the case that Machado was not getting much benefit of the doubt — including from these guys in particular — well before that reputation was established.

Over at the Big Lead, they found examples of Byrnes going after Machado way back in 2014. Machado’s transgressions have, from the beginning, been cast as a those of a dirty, hotheaded player who lacks class. Other players who have done exactly what Machado has done often get excused for showing “passion” and “competitiveness” or for “playing hard” instead of “playing dirty” even when there isn’t all that much actual difference between the acts in question.

Machado says it’s attributable, at least in part, to him being Latino. I think people can reasonably disagree on the question of whether Machado, personally, has been unfairly judged. But I think it’s pretty indisputable that, generally, Latino players get way, way, way less benefit of the doubt for “hard play” vs. “dirty play” and for being “hotheaded” as opposed to being “competitors” than non-Latinos get. Those stereotypes are well-established. Academic research has been conducted on that stuff, confirming such inherent bias on the part of white commentators. Some of Machado’s peers in the game have said the same thing, both in general, and about Machado’s treatment personally.

Which is to say, whether or not Machado has earned the treatment he gets, he has a point here.