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Chris Sale strikes out 17 batters in seven innings against Rockies

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It’s safe to say Chris Sale has figured things out. Despite six shutout innings on May 3 against the White Sox, Sale exited the start with a 5.25 ERA on the season. Not exactly the best start. Sale continued to pitch well last Wednesday against the Orioles, striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk across eight innings of one-run ball.

That’s a tough act to follow, but Sale had the game of his life on Tuesday at home against the Rockies. He yielded two runs — both coming on a Nolan Arenado homer — on three hits while issuing zero walks and striking out 17 batters. That obliterates Sale’s previous single-game high of 15 strikeouts, accomplished three times, twice as a member of the White Sox. Sale is the first pitcher to strike out at least 17 batters in a game since Max Scherzer tied the record with 20 strikeouts against the Tigers on May 11, 2016. The last member of the Red Sox to strike out at least 17 in one game was Pedro Martínez on May 6, 2000 against the Devil Rays.

Sale stood at 108 pitches after completing the seventh inning. Understandably, manager Alex Cora didn’t allow his ace to take the mound for the eighth inning with his team leading 3-2. Brandon Workman, who hadn’t allowed a hit in his last 11 appearances, took over for Sale. Chris Iannetta doubled off of Workman with one out to end that streak. [Update: And Workman then served up a two-run home run to Charlie Blackmon, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead. Sale is no longer in line for the win in his 17-strikeout game.]

After Tuesday night’s performance, Sale now has a 4.24 ERA with a 73/11 K/BB ratio in 51 innings on the season.

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.