What to watch tonight: Stephen Strasburg vs. Matt Harvey

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I’ve been looking forward to tonight’s Nationals-Mets game all week for the Stephen Strasburg-Matt Harvey matchup. Obviously arguments can be made for other guys, but for my money the 24-year-old Strasburg and the 24-year-old Harvey are the two young pitchers with the most upside in all of baseball.

Strasburg has made 48 career starts with a 2.94 ERA, .224 opponents’ batting average, and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Harvey has made 13 career starts with a 2.21 ERA, .173 opponents’ batting average, and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Among all starters with at least 75 innings since the beginning of last season Strasburg has the highest average fastball velocity at 95.7 miles per hour and Harvey ranks fourth at 94.6 miles per hour. They also rank No. 2 and No. 4 in strikeout rate during that span.

And better yet, here’s the all-time leaderboard for strikeouts per nine innings through age 24:

Kerry Wood           10.96
Stephen Strasburg    10.95
Brandon Beachy       10.57
Mark Prior           10.55
Matt Harvey          10.51

Strasburg and the Nationals are slight (-120) favorites over Harvey and the Mets.

Padres sign Aaron Loup to a one-year deal

Aaron Loup
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Free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup has been given a locker in the Padres’ clubhouse, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reported Sunday. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Loup received a one-year MLB deal with a club option for 2020. The Padres will shift right-hander Garrett Richards to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster.

Loup, 31, began the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Phillies for minor league right-hander Jacob Waguespack at the midseason deadline. The veteran left-hander pitched just two innings in Philadelphia before hitting the injured list with a forearm strain and returned for a handful of appearances at the end of the year, bringing him up to a 4.54 ERA, 3.2 BB/9, 10.0 SO/9, and 0.3 fWAR across 39 2/3 combined innings.

Assuming health issues don’t complicate his next campaign in San Diego, Loup will be added to the bullpen alongside fellow left-handers Matt Strahm and José Castillo (with the possible late addition of southpaw reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer earlier this year). There are worse places to be — according to FanGraphs, the Padres’ ‘pen jumped from second-worst in 2017 to second-best in the league with a cumulative 3.53 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 8.7 fWAR in 2018.