Stephen Strasburg made his fourth start for the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon against the Royals, and it went about as well as you might expect.
The rookie phenom struck out nine batters, issued no walks and allowed only one run over six strong innings. He didn’t get to ball four on a single batter and 75 of his 95 pitches went for strikes. Of course, the Nats’ offense gave him exactly zero run support and he wound up with his first loss of the season.
Strasburg, 21, is now 2-1 with a 1.78 earned-run average, a 0.95 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 25.1 major league innings.
He earned strikeout No. 41 with a knee-buckling 83 MPH curveball to Royals outfielder Scott Podsednik, snapping a record held by Herb Score, who struck out 40 batters in his first four major league starts back in 1955. It’s no secret by now, but Strasburg has been historically good.
Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. has gotten a lot of press lately and for good reason. He has absolutely torched Double-A pitching so far this season, entering Sunday’s doubleheader batting .407/.456/.676 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 170 plate appearances.
Guerrero stayed hot, going 4-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader, ending it in the bottom of the seventh inning — doubleheaders in the minors can be two seven-inning affairs — with a two-run homer.
Guerrero started off the back end of the doubleheader with an RBI single in the first inning, so he’s overall 5-for-5 with four RBI on the day as of this writing. He also now has 21 multi-hit games out of 39 total games this season. Today’s performance marked his second four-hit game; his other one occurred last Wednesday.
MLB Pipeline ranks Guerrero as the No. 1 prospect in the Jays’ system and No. 2 overall in baseball behind the Braves’ Ronald Acuña. The Jays may be forced to summon Guerrero to the big leagues if he keeps hitting like this. In a similar situation, the Nationals promoted hot-hitting 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto earlier today after just 35 plate appearances at Double-A, skipping Triple-A entirely.