A bad season turned worse for Stephen Strasburg on Friday.
Strasburg, who had struggled to a 6.50 ERA through nine starts heading into Friday's game, exited after 16 pitches due to neck muscle tightness. The right-hander faced just five hitters in the outing, leaving after walking Brayan Pena in the second inning. He allowed a solo home run to Joey Votto in the first inning to push his overall ERA to 6.55.
After the game, Strasburg told reporters his left trapezius muscle tightened to the point that he had trouble turning his head.
“I threw some hot stuff on it, and it just progressed,” Strasburg said of the time between the first and second inning when he felt his neck start to stiffen. “It’s hard for me to turn my head to the left. It didn’t feel like it was something where I would be able to throw out of the corner of my eyes and be effective.”
Nationals manager Matt Williams said the team will re-evaluate Strasburg on Saturday before determining a course of action.
“We have to see how he is [Saturday] and evaluate,” Williams said. “I don’t know. It’s the other side, so we’ll see what he shows up with.”
Although Friday's issue is a new one, the outing was the latest in a troubling string of starts for the 26-year-old. After the abbreviated start, Strasburg has now failed to complete four innings in four of his last five starts. He's now recorded 16 outs or fewer in six consecutive starts.
The injury was not only another tough break for Strasburg, but it was the latest blow for a team that has taken a few in recent weeks. The Nats found out Thursday that they'll likely be without Jayson Werth until August due to fractures in his left wrist, and Doug Fister is out indefinitely with a flexor tendon strain in his right forearm.
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Hamilton Breaks Through
It took Josh Hamilton a few games to get it going, but he certainly appeared to be in full swing, pun intended, on Friday.
The outfielder, who had two hits in Thursday's loss, belted his first two homers of the season in Friday's 7-4 win over the Red Sox. Hamilton swatted a solo homer off Red Sox starter Steven Wright in the second inning before adding another solo shot in the fourth.
"There is a sense of relief," Hamilton said of hitting the home runs. "Get 'em out of the way. OK, I can still hit it out of the park. That always helps your confidence. And the key is not getting too excited about it. Just like the last at-bat, you try to have a good at-bat. Take some hacks. Get a couple strikes. Focus a little harder."
The recent past has been so tough on Hamilton that it's hard to remember he was one of the preeminent home run hitters in the game just a few years ago. Hamilton hit 43 home runs in 2012 and had four straight years with at least 21 homers before hitting just 10 in 89 games during an injury-shortened season last year.
It's hard to know what to expect, if anything, from the 34-year-old now that he's back in Arlington. The Rotoworld crew recently took a shot at figuring it out, but the reality is that nobody knows how much of a physical and mental toll Hamilton's issues have taken on him. He seems to be in a good situation with his old team, though, and Friday showed that he's still capable of doing some damage yet.
Feldman Hits The Shelf
The first place Astros were dealt a tough blow Friday when they lost one of their best starters.
Scott Feldman, who has turned in quality starts in seven of his 10 starts this season, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. Feldman had surgery Friday in Houston to repair the damage.
“He’s expected to miss four to six weeks,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “He may be back before the All-Star break. It’s obviously a blow because he was pitching well for us.”
Feldman has an unattractive 4.80 ERA through 60 innings of work, but the right-hander has been better than his overall numbers suggest. After being knocked around in a 7-1 loss to the Rangers on May 5, Feldman had a 3.86 ERA over his last four May starts.
The team called up fireballer Michael Feliz to fill Feldman's roster spot, but the 21-year-old is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. The Astros will be forced to make another move prior to Monday's game for a starter to take Feldman's place in the rotation. Southpaw Brett Oberholtzer, who is on a rehab assignment for a blister on his pitching hand, could be the move.
National League Quick Hits: With Feldman on the shelf, the upstart Astros have discussed National League hurlers Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang internally ... The Reds had hoped Cueto, who is dealing with a small elbow issue, would be ready to start Sunday's series finale against the Nationals, but that doesn't appear as though it will happen. The team will push him back a few more days to give him some extra rest, with an eye on Cueto starting against the Phillies early next week ... Troy Tulowitzki homered twice in a win over the Phillies. Tulo had just two homers in 43 games coming into the affair ... Travis d'Arnaud is dealing with a bone bruise in his wrist that will keep him from being activated from the disabled list for the time being ... Jean Segura didn't waste any time returning from a broken pinkie, requiring just the minimum DL stay and rejoining the Brewers without a rehab assignment. The shortstop finished 1-for-4 in a loss to the Diamondbacks ... Speaking of the Diamondbacks, catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who left Wednesday's game after jamming his left knee, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a probable ACL tear in the knee. The club called up Jarrod Saltalamacchia in Gosewisch's absence ... The Cardinals activated Jon Jay from the disabled list Friday ... the Phillies parted ways with Grady Sizemore, designating him for assignment Friday. The injury-riddled outfielder batted just .245/.288/.296 in 39 games with the club this season.
American League Quick Hits: Victor Martinez, battling soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, could be out until after the All-Star break. Rehab is "going to be a slow process," according to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News ... Alex Rios, who has been sidelined since mid-April with a fractured left hand, will be activated on Saturday. Rios will look to recapture some of the magic he had during his hot start to the year prior to the injury ... Matt Moore (elbow) is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week ... Hisashi Iwakuma (lat) played catch again Thursday, and M's manager Lloyd McClendon said the right-hander "feels real good" ... Devon Travis (shoulder) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. Travis finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout ... Steven Souza returned to the Rays' lineup with a bang Friday, homering in his first at-bat. Souza had been out in recent days with a sprained left wrist ... Matt Wieters will be activated from the disabled list on June 5 ... Avisail Garcia missed another game with a nagging knee injury ... Erick Aybar was also absent Friday, nursing a tight left hamstring. He said he expects to play Saturday, though ... James Paxton hit the 15-day disabled list with a strained tendon in his finger. The poor guy can't seem to stay healthy.