Stephen Strasburg held the Astros scoreless into the third, only to give up two runs in 2 2/3 innings in his spring debut.
Strasburg struck out three and walked none. He allowed a solo homer to Chris Snyder and a double to Jordan Schafer in the third. Schafer came around to score off Tom Gorzelanny after Strasburg departed.
In all, Strasburg threw 26 of his 44 pitches for strikes.
“The biggest thing I noticed was that it was very easy for me to go out there,” he said. “My arm felt a lot stronger. It didn’t feel like it was getting tired as fast (as last year). I mean, it was pretty much a breeze. I was a little erratic at times, but I know that’s going to come with repetitions and just fine-tuning the mechanics.”
It was rather odd to see Strasburg set up to throw three innings in his first outing of the spring. Many veteran starters go just two in their debuts, and unlike all of them, Strasburg, who missed most of last year following Tommy John surgery, is dealing with a 160-inning limit for the regular season this year. It hardly makes much sense for the Nationals to put him ahead of the curve now.
The Pirates are officially shutting down Chris Archer for the season, GM Neal Huntington revealed Sunday. It’s more of a formality than anything else, but, as the Pirates are currently out of postseason contention, there seems to be no point in forcing the right-hander to accelerate his recovery from right shoulder inflammation.
Archer, 30, sustained the injury in late August and was initially projected to return sometime during September. He’s been throwing from flat ground over the last several weeks, but there had been no indication that he was ready to resume starting duties for the club. He’ll end his 2019 run with a 3-9 record in 23 starts and a 5.19 ERA, 4.1 BB/9, 10.8 SO/9, and 0.7 fWAR across 119 2/3 innings pitched; not his worst performance to date, but a considerable step down from the sub-5.00 ERA and 2.6 fWAR he posted with the Rays and Pirates in 2018.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Pirates will soon wrap up their fourth consecutive non-contending campaign. Following Saturday’s brutal 14-1 loss to the Cubs, they were mathematically eliminated from postseason qualification. They last reached the playoffs in 2015, though it’s been six years since they advanced past the wild card tiebreaker and 27 years since they advanced past the Division Series.