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Stephen Strasburg says he was tipping pitches in first inning of Game 6

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When the Astros have been in the postseason, there have been frequent conversations about the club’s ability to spot ways the opposing pitchers tip their pitches. It was just three weeks ago, after all, that Rays starter Tyler Glasnow admitted he was tipping pitches during an abbreviated start against the Astros in Game 5 of the ALDS.

Stephen Strasburg got the start for the Nationals in Game 6 of the World Series and it turns out that he, too, was tipping his pitches to the Astros. He surrendered two runs in the first inning. George Springer swatted a 112 MPH double off of the wall in left field, advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on José Altuve’s deep fly ball to left field. Alex Bregman followed up by planting a Strasburg fastball in the seats in left field. Yuli Gurriel ended the inning with the deepest of fly balls to left-center field just to the right of the Crawford Boxes.

From that point on, Strasburg was money. He wouldn’t allow another run the rest of the way, pitching into the ninth inning. He got the first out of the ninth inning before acting manager Chip Hale brought in lefty Sean Doolittle for the final two outs. Strasburg was on the hook for just the two runs on five hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts on 104 pitches.

During his postgame interview with Tom Verducci on the Fox broadcast, Strasburg said that pitching coach Paul Menhart noticed that the right-hander was tipping his pitches. Strasburg started to wiggle his glove to throw the Astros’ hitters off his trail. Strasburg’s full response:

Verducci: Two runs in the first inning, nothing thereafter. What was the change you made?

Strasburg: Started shaking my glove so they didn’t know what I was throwing. Obviously, they look for certain things and I just thank Menhart for giving me the tip.

Verducci: […] Tell me about how [Menhart] saw that, or did you recognize that?

Strasburg: I definitely didn’t. It’s something that has burned me in the past, and they burned me there in the first. It’s just a part of the game. You gotta do your best to stay consistent in your delivery on each pitch.

Both Strasburg and Menhart have seen their stocks rise this October. Strasburg, who can opt out of his contract next week, now boasts a career 1.46 ERA in 55 1/3 postseason innings.

Blake Snell becomes client of Boras Corporation

Blake Snell
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Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.

Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”

Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.

Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.