Stephen Strasburg struck out six batters in a three-inning rehab start Monday night at Single-A and the Nationals announced that he’ll move up to Triple-A for his next start Saturday.
In addition to being just one step from the majors Strasburg told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he’s looking forward to facing Triple-A hitters because so many Single-A hitters “are just up there hacking” and don’t give him an opportunity to work on his full repertoire.
Strasburg, who’s about 12 months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, could be back in the Nationals’ rotation as soon as September 2, with Kilgore reporting that the most likely date for his return to the majors is September 6 or 7 because the minor-league season ends on September 5.
Strasburg had one bad rehab outing last week, but has consistently been clocked in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a remarkable 18 strikeouts in 9.1 innings.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.