Cliff Lee is doing just fine, thanks

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On Opening Day, Cliff Lee gave up eight runs on 11 hits in five innings. That’s not a Cliff Lee anyone is used to seeing. I actually got asked on a radio show if Cliff Lee is on the decline. After one start! Well, Cliff Lee has answered that question. Here is his line for his last four:

30 IP, 33 H, 37K, 1 BB, 1.20 ERA

That’s a lot of hits, of course, but when you strike out dudes like crazy and don’t walk anyone you can get away with that. And having watched all of his start last Wednesday and part of his start last night, it’s clear that Lee’s command and control is no different than it’s always been. Which is to say spectacular. There is no one in the game who is able to put the ball where he wants to put it like Cliff Lee can.

Last night he tied the Dodgers up in knots. He struck out ten in eight shutout innings. He struck out 13 Braves in that game last Wednesday and, even if he took the loss thanks to no run support, he was dominant.

Some things change. Some things don’t. Cliff Lee looking amazing is one of those things that doesn’t.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.