Nationals choose Stephen Strasburg to start Game 1

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Making official what was expected, the Nationals announced that Stephen Strasburg will start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Giants. It’ll be Strasburg’s postseason debut.

Jordan Zimmermann, fresh off his regular season finale no-hitter, will start Game 2 and Doug Fister will get the ball in Game 3. So far at least manager Matt Williams has not said what his plans are for Game 4. Gio Gonzalez is the obvious option, especially with Tanner Roark likely to work out of the bullpen, but the Nationals could also bring back Strasburg on short rest if needed and then use Zimmermann on normal rest in Game 5.

Strasburg’s win-loss record this season wasn’t great because of poor lineup and bullpen support, but he threw 215 innings with a 3.14 ERA and league-leading 242 strikeouts. Washington’s rotation depth is, on paper at least, pretty incredible.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).