Into the Strastosphere
After departing his last start with a calf cramp, there was some concern over Stephen Strasburg heading into Friday's start against the Phillies. That concern was magnified early on as he surrendered four runs in the first three innings, including a two-run homer by Tommy Joseph. After that point, he morphed back into his typical dominant form.
After the Joseph homer, Strasburg retired the next 14 batters in order, seven of them on strikes. He departed after seven frames, having surrendered just those four runs on five hits and a walk while striking out ten. It marked the seventh time in 13 starts this season that he has recorded double-digit strikeouts.
Oh, and he won. Again.
Strasburg improved to 10-0 on the season, becoming the first National League starting pitcher since Andy Hawkins in 1985 to begin a season 10-0. He has now won 13 consecutive decisions dating back to last season, with his last loss coming at the hand of the Mets last September.
The 27-year-old right-hander now boasts a 3.03 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 110/23 K/BB ratio over 86 innings through his first 13 starts. He has been pitching like the ace that the Nationals were hoping for when making him the top overall selection in the 2009 draft. As long as he remains healthy, there's no reason he shouldn't finish the season as one of the top hurlers in all of baseball.
Rollin’ into Retirement?
Jimmy Rollins was designated for assignment by the White Sox on Friday, which could spell the end of a marvelous career for the 37-year-old shortstop. He was hitting just .221/.295/.329 with two homers, eight RBI, five stolen bases and a 33/16 K/BB ratio in 149 plate appearances, and had been losing playing time to the light-hitting Tyler Saladino.
There could be other clubs in playoff contention willing to give him a look as a veteran bat off the bench, though there’s a good chance that this is the end of a fantastic 17-year big league career. If that is indeed the case, he’ll go down as one of the top all-around shortstops of his generation.
Rollins was on top of the game and the fantasy world in 2007 when he took home his first and only National League MVP award. In that campaign, he played in all 162 games and slashed .296/.344/.531 with a league-leading 139 runs scored, 30 home runs, 94 RBI and 41 stolen bases in a jaw-dropping 778 plate appearances. It ranks as one of the best offensive seasons, and fantasy performances, by a shortstop in major league history.
If this is indeed the end, he’ll finish with a career .264/.324/.418 slash line with 2455 hits, 231 home runs and 470 stolen bases. A three-time All-Star, Rollins was the recipient of four Gold Glove awards and was a member of the 2008 Phillies’ World Championship team. Does that make him worthy of the Hall of Fame? It's certainly debatable. Aside from his mediocre batting average, the rest of the numbers across the board compare favorably to other middle infielders enshrined in Cooperstown.
Trouble in Cole-town
Pirates fans and fantasy owners held their collective breath on Friday when Gerrit Cole left his start against the Cardinals with an undisclosed injury in the third inning. It was later revealed that the star right-hander was dealing with tightness in his right triceps.
Cole admitted afterwards that something just didn't feel right in the third inning, and it was unlike anything that he has ever felt before. Any arm-related issues are incredibly concerning for starting pitchers, especially franchise cornerstones such as Cole. He'll head for further evaluation on Saturday before the Pirates determine a course of action.
It's likely that they'll take every possible precaution with their prized 25-year-old, so a trip to the disabled list seems like a logical conclusion. If he indeed lands on the disabled list, that would open the door again for Jameson Taillon to work in the rotation. The rookie right-hander made his big league debut against the Mets on Wednesday, settling for a no-decision after allowing three runs in six frames. He should be scooped up in deeper mixed leagues where he's available.
American League Quick Hits: Edwin Encarnacion played the role of hero on Friday, smacking a walk-off solo homer in the 10th inning against the Orioles... C.C. Sabathia delivered a vintage performance, shutting out the Tigers over seven innings... Dae-Ho Lee blasted a pair of home runs and drove home four, leading the M's to victory over the Rangers... Alex Avila launched his first two long balls of the season in a win over the Royals... Mitch Moreland clubbed two solo homers in a losing effort... So did Eric Hosmer, with both of his coming as opposite-field shots off of Chris Sale. He's just the second player to ever blast multiple homers in a game off of Sale, joining Ryan Raburn... Corey Kluber allowed just two runs on three hits in a complete game victory over the M's.. Xander Bogaerts went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBI as the Red Sox rolled over the Twins... Steven Wright earned his seventh win with 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Twins... Chris Davis blasted his 14th homer in a loss to the Jays... Sonny Gray carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Reds, but wound up losing after allowing two runs... Adrian Beltre (hamstring) is expected to sit out the remainder of the weekend and could still land on the disabled list... Leonys Martin (hamstring) went hitless in his return from the disabled list... Jake Petricka (labrum) and Daniel Webb (elbow) will miss the remainder of the 2016 season... Troy Tulowitzki (quad) suffered a setback in his minor league rehab assignment... Austin Jackson landed on the DL with a medial meniscus tear of the right knee... Rob Refsnyder will function as the Yankees' primary first baseman for the time being... Daniel Mengden will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to make his big league debut against the Reds on Saturday... Chris Parmelee landed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring...
National League Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw continued his other-worldly dominance on Friday, racking up 13 strikeouts over eight innings of two-run ball against the Giants, earning his ninth victory... Matt Carpenter blasted a three-run homer, his 10th, in a victory over the Pirates... Bud Norris fired seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Cubs... Anthony DeSclafani (oblique) pitched well in his season debut, allowing one run on eight hits over six innings against the Athletics... Justin Bour belted a pinch-hit grand slam, leading the Marlins to victory... Wil Myers clubbed a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning, leading the Padres to victory over the Rockies... Tommy Joseph swatted his sixth and seventh home runs, and is now hitting a robust .323/.333/.647... Francisco Cervelli was lifted from Friday's game due to pain in his left hand... Andrew Cashner was forced to leave his start after throwing just six pitches due to neck and back tightness... Peter O'Brien was recalled from Triple-A with the idea that he'll play regularly in the D'Backs outfield... Billy Hamilton landed on the 7-day concussion disabled list... The Brewers placed Domingo Santana back on the disabled list with right elbow soreness... Vince Velasquez's MRI revealed no structural damage...