Stephen Strasburg’s fastball averaged 96 mph last night

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Stephen Strasburg was dominant last night in his first start since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery almost exactly 12 months ago, shutting out the Dodgers for five innings.

Strasburg averaged 96.7 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball and 95.1 mph on his two-seam fastball, which is pretty amazing considering that Justin Verlander leads all big-league starters in average fastball velocity this season at 95.0 mph.

However, as hard as Strasburg was throwing last night it was actually slightly below his pre-surgery average of 97.3 mph. And that’s by design, as the former No. 1 pick told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

I think I’ve come to the realization that I don’t have to throw 100 to get guys out. Fastball command, I think, is better than it was before. I think it’s just because I’m not trying to dial it up every time.

If the pitch isn’t well located, they’re still going to hit it. I’m still focused on commanding all the pitches, throwing strikes, climbing the ladder, working inside-outside. I’m really trying to be a pitcher out there. I’m not trying to go out there and light up the radar gun every time.

Of course, that’s easy to say when dialing things back a bit still involves throwing 96 miles per hour in your first big-league appearance in 12 months. And as Kilgore notes Strasburg topped out at 98.7 mph on an 0-2 fastball he blew past Aaron Miles.

Strasburg struck out four of the 17 batters he faced last night and also racked up 29 strikeouts in 20 innings while rehabbing in the minors. New ligaments and all, that’s one hell of an arm.

Report: Nationals to call up prospect Carter Kieboom

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Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals will promote middle infield prospect Carter Kieboom to the majors ahead of Friday’s game against the Padres. The Nationals are currently dealing with injuries to shortstop Trea Turner and third baseman Anthony Rendon, so the club hopes Kieboom can help the team tread water at the very least.

Kieboom, 21, was selected by the Nationals in the first round (28th overall) in the 2016 draft. MLB Pipeline currently rates him No. 2 in the Nationals’ system and No. 37 overall. Kieboom has played both second base and shortstop this season after exclusively playing shortstop previously in his professional career.

With Triple-A Fresno to start the 2019 season, Kieboom hit .379/.506/.636 with three homers, 18 RBI, and 14 runs scored in 83 plate appearances.