Some pitching feats in tonight’s action

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A.J. Burnett turned in his third consecutive solid effort, holding the Reds to three runs over six innings tonight, striking out eight.

Since 2000, there are only ten occurrences of a pitcher tossing at least five innings and striking out eight or more in at least his first three starts of the season. Randy Johnson had 15 such starts to open the 2000 season and only six have done it four or more times. With his start tonight against the Cincinnati Reds, Burnett has three such starts in a row and now sits on 27 strikeouts in 16 innings. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s an average of 15 strikeouts per nine innings. As a percentage of batters faced, Burnett’s strikeout rate is 36 percent. The highest strikeout rate among starters last year belonged to Max Scherzer at 29 percent. Small sample size caveats apply, of course.

Burnett also accomplished the feat in 2002 when he was with the Florida Marlins. Click here for the full list.

Meanwhile, Twins starter Vance Worley lasted just one inning against the New York Mets in snowy, 34-degree weather in Minnesota tonight. The bespectacled right-hander allowed nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out only one. Five of the runs came in the first inning, and four more were credited to Worley as he failed to retire a batter in the second inning.

John Buck, arguably the hottest hitter in baseball right now, hit a grand slam off of Pedro Hernandez, who came in to relieve Worley. Buck now has six home runs, tied for the Major League lead with Chris Davis, Mike Morse, and Justin Upton. The four RBI also bring him into a tie for the MLB lead with Davis as well.

In Cleveland, it was quite the pitcher’s duel. For seven innings, White Sox starter Jose Quintana and Indians starter Justin Masterson traded goose eggs. Quintana was lifted after seven innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out seven. Masterson tossed a full nine innings, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out seven. His ERA on the season is now 0.45. The Indians walked off in the bottom of the ninth when Nick Swisher drove in Michael Bourn with an RBI single.

We’ve also had a triple play turned tonight. And the night isn’t even over yet.

Cardinals prospect Griffin Roberts suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

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Cardinals right-handed pitching prospect Griffin Roberts has been suspended 50 games following his second positive test for a drug of abuse, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Roberts, 22, is currently ranked the Cardinals’ tenth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft and signed for a $1.66 million bonus, after which he split his first year in pro ball between the rookie-level GCL Cardinals and High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. He finished his run in 2018 with a combined seven runs, four walks, and 13 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings across the two levels, and projects as a potential major-league starter (or solid righty reliever) after touching up his fastball-slider combo and proving he can command the ball on a consistent basis.

Whether he’ll emerge from A-level ball with a more concrete idea of his future role with the team will have to wait until he’s reinstated from the restricted list. He should be eligible to rejoin the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate sometime in mid- to late-May 2019.