Stephen Strasburg dealing with forearm tightness

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Here’s something Nationals fans don’t want to hear.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after tonight’s game that Stephen Strasburg is currently dealing with right forearm tightness. Strasburg allowed two runs on six hits and four walks over six innings tonight as part of a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to the Braves.

Of course, Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery in September of 2010 and missed nearly one year of action. The Nationals infamously shut him down last year after 159 1/3 innings in his first full season back from surgery. While the shutdown was aimed at keeping him healthy for the long-term, there was no way to know whether the team’s approach would prove successful. Mike Rizzo and company are crossing their fingers right now.

Strasburg is currently being examined by a doctor while Johnson said that it’s too soon to say whether he’ll be available for his next scheduled start. However, given his previous Tommy John surgery and his importance to the rotation, one would think that he would get a bit of a break even if the issue is deemed minor. The Nationals could use Zach Duke for a spot-start.

UPDATE: Stephen Strasburg told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that his arm feels fine and that he will not miss a start. While it’s nice to hear that he’s upbeat about the situation, the Nationals may have other plans.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.