Last night, the Nationals Treasure Stephen Strasburg, made his first start since last year and he did not show any problems with his control like some other pitchers do when returning from Tommy John surgery. He held the woeful Dodgers lineup to just 2 hits, no walks, and struck out 4 in his 5 innings of work. He need only 56 pitches to get through the 5 innings, and today will be a very important day in his return from TJS. The hope is, for the Nationals and fantasy owners, that he feels no ill effects from those 56 pitches. I read last week and heard on the telecast last night, that the Nationals want Strasburg to pitch to more contact to allow for shorter innings and more groundball outs. As I stated previously, this will be something to watch in September to gauge Strasburg's value for 2012.
For more on Strasburg's return, here are links to a few articles around Baseball Nation:
Stephen Strasburg and the Rise of the Strikeout by Marc Normandin
Strasburg's Return Part of Nationals' Master Plan by Grant Brisbee
More Roundup after the jump:
Pirates stud outfielder Andrew McCutchen went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts last night, and as I was saying to another fantasy owner yesterday, he has had a bit of a disappointing season for me. He is hitting "just" .267-.370-.460 with 20 HRs, 81 RBI, 79 runs and 20 SBs in 29 attempts. The power reached my expectations this season, but he has underperformed in the stolen base category. I expected 35-40 stolen bases this season, and we get 20. He still has time to make the SB total look respectable, but back in spring training, manager Clint Hurdle talked about the team running more this season, which raised everyone's expectations for McCutchen and teammate Jose Tabata.
Is Pirates young starter Brad Lincoln worth picking up? He pitched another solid game last night, holding the light-hitting Astros lineup to 2 runs on 5 hits, no walks and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings of work. He has gone at least 6 innings in all 5 of his starts this season, giving up 3 runs or less in each of them. In his 5 starts, he has an 18-7 K/BB rate, and he is a groundball machine, averaging 10+ ground ball outs in each start.
Tigers DH Victor Martinez went 2-4 with 3 RBI last night, and he is now hitting .325-.374-.453 with 9 HRs, 85 RBI, 65 runs in 464 at bats this season. VMart retains catcher eligibility in 2012 as he has made 26 appearances at catcher this season, in addition to 6 appearances at first base.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester dominated the Blue Jays lineup last night, shutting them out for 7 innings, giving up just 3 hits, walking one and striking out 11 to win his 15th game of the season. He is now 15-6 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a 167-63 K/BB rate in his 172 innings this season.
It will be interesting to see if the Red Sox pony up the cash to give DH David Ortiz another contract this offseason. Ortiz has done his part by hitting .318-.405-.589 with 28 HRs, 91 RBI and 76 runs scored. The Red Sox lineup is stacked, and they may want to allocate their cash toward another starting pitcher. No lie. After I wrote this, I saw the MLB commercial where Ortiz is in NYC hugging Yankee fans with his Red Sox jersey on. I wonder if the Yankees will make a play for Ortiz this offseason. The only way that happens is if they deal Jesus Montero to make room for him.
Last offseason, I wrote about David Murphy as a sleeper candidate this season. He started the season very slowly, but has been hot of late. He went 4-4 last night with a HR, 2 runs and 4 RBI. For the season, he is hitting ,271-.31-.398 with 9 HRs, 39 RBI, 40 runs and 8 SBs in 332 at bats. He's had a bit of a disappointing season this year, but in his last 10 games he is 18-39 with 3 HRs, 12 RBI, 10 runs and 2 SBs.
Rangers starter C.J. Wilson threw a complete game 5 hit shutout against the Rays last night, walking 3 and striking out 6 to win his 15th game of the season. He has given up 2 runs or less in 7 of his last 10 starts, and is 15-6 on the season with a 3.13 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a 179-66 K/BB rate in 201 innings. He is on pace for 200+ strikeouts this season.