Stephen Strasburg may not be the award-winning hitter he was in 2012, but that didn’t stop him from snapping a scoreless streak of 10 at-bats to go yard against the Phillies on Friday night. The Nationals’ right-hander skied a 1-2 pitch from Nick Pivetta to deep center field, clearing the bases to boost Washington’s lead to 2-0 in the second inning:
Strasburg is just the fourth pitcher to hit a home run in 2017, preceded by Adam Wainwright, Michael Lorenzen and Madison Bumgarner‘s homers in April. The blast marked his second career home run, and the first by a Nationals’ hurler since Mat Latos went deep against the Mets’ Rafael Montero last September. On the mound, Strasburg lasted 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies, allowing five hits, four walks and striking out five of 26 batters. The Nationals currently lead the Phillies 4-2 in the eighth.
The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.
Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.
It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.
Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.