OK, so he didn’t just struggle against the Marlins tonight. It was the worst start of his brief major league career.
Strasburg failed to complete five innings for the first time, allowing a career-high six runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings. The Marlins hitters were able to square him up with relative ease, but Dan Uggla was his worst enemy, connecting for a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run double in the third.
Strasburg threw 51 out of 84 pitches for strikes while striking out four and walking two. The rookie phenom’s ERA jumped all the way from 2.32 ERA to 3.07 on the year.
We should be willing to give Strasburg a mulligan tonight, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Nats GM Mike Rizzo chewed all of his fingernails off watching this one.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.