Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was dominant in his sixth minor league rehab start Thursday evening at Double-A Harrisburg.
According to Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times, the 23-year-old phenom surrendered just one hit over six scoreless innings while reaching 99 mph with his fastball. Strasburg threw 55 of his 71 pitches for strikes, fanning four opposing batters and yielding just one free pass via a hit-by-pitch. He induced seven groundball outs and four flyouts.
Strasburg threw five innings of one-run ball last time out at Triple-A Syracuse and seems to be growing more and more comfortable executing his full arsenal of pitches. In fact, 15 of his final 36 deliveries Thursday were either curveballs or changeups.
Strasburg is on track to return to the major leagues next Tuesday against the Dodgers. He’d probably do well to build his pitch count with one or two more rehab appearances, but the Nationals are excited about filling their stadium a couple of times down the stretch and don’t believe he’s in danger of re-injury. The former No. 1 overall draft pick underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on September 3, 2010.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.