It took four seasons and 54 starts, but Stephen Strasburg finally threw a pitch in the eighth inning last night. And it came against his hometown Padres, in San Diego, where he dominated as a college star at San Diego State.
Prior to tossing eight innings of two-run ball versus the Padres he’d never worked past the seventh inning, but manager Davey Johnson let Strasburg throw 117 pitches. That’s actually not a career-high, as Strasburg threw 119 pitches in a six-inning outing against the Red Sox in June of last season.
Strasburg had gone seven innings in a start 10 times before last night, but never was allowed to begin the eighth inning despite seven of those starts involving fewer than 100 pitches and three of them involving fewer than 90 pitches.
It’s safe to say that any development-based and/or post-Tommy John surgery limitations have been lifted and Strasburg is now just a normal pitcher (at least in terms of workload). Up next on the agenda: His first complete game.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.