After holding the Mets scoreless last Sunday in his first major league start since July 19, 2010, Ben Sheets kept on trucking this afternoon.
Sheets tossed six scoreless innings against the Nationals as part of a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up just five hits while walking three and striking out six.
After missing all of last season recovering from two major elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery, Sheets now has 12 scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Braves. Just how long he’ll hold up is a legitimate question, but he’s provided quite a lift to Atlanta’s rotation already.
Edwin Jackson suffered the tough-luck loss for the Nationals, giving up just one run over seven innings while striking out nine. His only mistake came on a solo home run by Brian McCann in the top of the second inning. Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning while Chipper Jones added a two-run pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning for some insurance.
The Braves have taken the first two games of the weekend series to move to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals. Randall Delgado will start for the Braves in the nightcap while John Lannan will make his first major league start of the season for the Nationals.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.