Well, Stephen Strasburg just passed his latest test with flying colors.
Strasburg allowed just two hits over three shutout innings tonight for High-A Potomac, striking out five and walking none. Both hits were infield singles.
The plan was for Strasburg to throw either five innings or 50 pitches, so he was pulled after throwing 26 out of 33 pitches for strikes. He was so efficient that he was sent to the bullpen to throw another inning’s worth of pitches.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Strasburg consistently sat around 98 mph on his fastball in the first inning and topped out at 99 mph to record a strikeout in the second inning. While he drew the usual raves for his knee-buckling curveball, he also recorded a pair of strikeouts in his final inning on 90 mph changeups. 90 mph changeups? Yep, they’re back.
Strasburg has allowed one run and struck out nine in 4 2/3 innings over his first two rehab starts. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to pitch in the major leagues in September.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.