You may remember yesterday’s post which dealt with comments made by Nats starter Stephen Strasburg and second baseman Danny Espinosa where both said they were not impressed by the Braves. Espinosa had said this, after the Braves took the first two games of the three-game series in Washington:
“They’re good, I don’t think they’re better than us,” Danny Espinosa said. “They’re a good ballclub, they have talent. They’re hot right now, they only lost one game, but they’re hot. It all evens out.”
The Braves stomped the Nats again this afternoon, completing the sweep with a 9-0 win. The Nationals dropped to 7-5, while the Braves bumped to 11-1, the second-best start after 12 games in franchise history. Espinosa did not back down from his comments when he spoke to the media after the game, though.
The two teams meet in Atlanta for a four-game series starting on April 29, so Espinosa won’t have to wait very long to put his money where his mouth is.
Espinosa, by the way, had to leave this afternoon’s game after being hit on the right wrist with a pitch, but x-rays were negative. Steve Lombardozzi replaced him in the game and would fill in for him if Espinosa needs to miss any time.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.