No one told Stephen Strasburg that NL teams were supposed to struggle in interleague games.
Strasburg won his sixth straight start Wednesday by allowing two runs in seven innings and striking out 10 in the Nationals’ 3-2 defeat of the Rays. He improved to 4-0 against American League East teams this season.
The 23-year-old Strasburg moved to 9-1 with a 2.46 ERA overall and reclaimed the major league lead in strikeouts with 110. He’s 4-0 with a 40/5 K/BB ratio in 26 innings this month.
Strasburg overshadowed Chris Archer tonight in his major league debut. The promising Archer, whom the Rays acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal prior to 2011, allowed three runs — one earned — and three hits in taking a tough loss. He struck out seven and walked just one before being removed after six innings.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.