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.
Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas is drawing interest from at least four clubs, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Friday. The Brewers are the presumed frontrunners to land the infielder, but Heyman adds that the Angels may take the inside edge as Moustakas hails from the San Fernando Valley and has invested in charity efforts in California over the last year. The Phillies and Padres, on the other hand, have been involved to a lesser degree as they’re both thought to be in hot pursuit of fellow free agent third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado, though their interest in the veteran Moustakas could ramp right back up should they lose out on Machado in the weeks to come.
Moustakas, 30, declined a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of the 2018 season, and like many others left on the market, has yet to find a landing spot in advance of spring training. While he’s several years removed from his last All-Star performance, he ran a decent campaign with the Royals and Brewers last year, slashing a combined .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs, a .774 OPS, and 2.4 fWAR across 635 plate appearances.
He certainly appears to be a fit in Anaheim, where he could supplant Zack Cozart at the hot corner and balance out the Angels’ right-heavy lineup alongside Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour, and Tommy La Stella. Even if the Angels have serious interest in the third baseman, however, they’re likely to wait and see what kind of contract Machado (and the as-yet unsigned Bryce Harper) fetches before extending any serious offers of their own. They’re far from the only club to use the four-time All-Star as a litmus test this offseason, which has only fueled a growing unrest among MLB players who believe that more serious action — such as a midseason walk-out or a league-wide strike — will need to be taken over the next few months.