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: Rangers sign Jordan Lyles to two-year, $16 million deal

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers and pitcher Jordan Lyles have agreed to a contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan provided the details, reporting that it is a two-year, $16 million deal.

Lyles, 29, split last season between the Pirates and Brewers, performing much better with the latter. Overall, he compiled a 4.15 ERA with a 146 strikeouts and 55 walks across 141 innings. It was a return to full-time starting for Lyles, who had performed mostly as a reliever from 2016-18.

The Rangers also inked Kyle Gibson to a three-year, $30 million contract last week. Gibson and Lyles will join a rotation that also includes Mike Minor and Lance Lynn as well as youngster Kolby Allard.