Starter Stephen Strasburg shut the Phillies out over nine innings, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out ten with 99 pitches as the Nationals wrapped up a series sweep at home with a 6-0 victory. Today’s performance marked the tenth time in his young career that Strasburg went into double-digits in strikeouts. The shutout is the first of his career and we expect there will be many, many more.
Outfielder Jayson Werth continued his torrid hitting, going 3-for-4 after entering the ballgame hitting .542 since the start of August. Werth was on third base in the fifth inning when Wilson Ramos hit a ground ball to second baseman Chase Utley. Utley made an errant throw home, allowing Werth to score on what appeared to be a close play, but catcher Erik Kratz couldn’t hold onto the ball. Werth was a little shaken up on the play, and was removed from the game in the seventh inning, replaced by Roger Bernadina.
The win is the Nats’ third in a row. They will play three games against the Giants at home before departing for a ten-game road trip against the Braves, Cubs, and Royals.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.