Stephen Strasburg on track to return Tuesday

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While we’re on the subject of “next big things,” Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider reports that Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to return from the disabled list next Tuesday against the Marlins.

Strasburg, who was placed on the disabled list last week with shoulder stiffness, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. He hurled fastballs, curveballs and changeups at full velocity and was “letting it go,” according to Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz.

He’ll still need to complete a simulated game Thursday and another bullpen session Saturday, but Nationals manager Jim Riggelman is very optimistic that he will be available Tuesday, as scheduled.

“It’s only tentative if he doesn’t respond 100 percent to the workload,”
Manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’re anticipating everything will go fine
and he can pitch Tuesday. But if there’s the slightest something to be
cautious about, we’ll back off from that.”

I follow statistics as much as any other baseball geek, but Zuckerman tweeted something pretty interesting in its sheer meaninglessness earlier this afternoon:

Craziest (and least meaningful) stat ever: With Strasburg on 25-man roster, Nats are 15-26. Without him, they’re 32-33.

Just your classic case of coincidental sucking, I’m sure.  

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.