Houston has signed left-hander Joe Thatcher to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Thatcher struggled for the Angels at the end of last season, but was previously very effective for the Padres and Diamondbacks. He has a 3.40 ERA in 238 career innings while holding lefties to a .230 batting average and he’s also been effective enough versus righties to avoid being strictly a southpaw specialist.
Thatcher will make $1 million in guaranteed money if he cracks the Opening Day bullpen.
Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.
The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:
- Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
- Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
- Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
- Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
- Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)
Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.
Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.