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Baseball Daily Dose

Dose: Better, Strasburg

by Drew Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Stephen Strasburg was placed on the disabled list May 30 with a left trapezius strain and a 6.55 ERA. He finally returned to the Nationals’ rotation on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. and his first start in nearly a month brought promising signs that a turnaround could be ahead.

Strasburg allowed just four hits, one walk, and struck out six over five scoreless innings against the visiting Braves, lowering that unsightly 6.55 season ERA to 5.90. He wasn’t exactly efficient, needing 94 pitches to get through five, but Atlanta didn’t get a runner past second base while he was in the game. Washington wound up winning 3-1, with Strasburg notching his first victory since May 17.

It was Strasburg’s best start since April 19, when he tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the lowly Phillies.

Here is Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com on Strasburg’s return outing: “Could Strasburg have been better? Yeah, but really the only gripe would be his lack of efficiency. And that's a minor nitpick on an otherwise impressive night for the right-hander. He did exactly what the Nationals wanted him to do: Command his fastball down in the zone early in the count, then elevate it with two strikes. All six of his strikeouts came on high fastballs, most registering 97 mph. Strasburg's mechanics looked good. His demeanor was good. Everything about him was good in this game, an awfully encouraging development for the Nats.”

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Cecil Out As Saves Man In Toronto

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the media before Tuesday night’s game against the Rays that Brett Cecil has been removed from the team’s ninth-inning role. And this time it doesn’t seem like a temporary change.

Cecil allowed four runs on two hits and two walks in Sunday’s loss to the Orioles, moving his already-ugly season ERA to 5.96. The left-hander is striking out batters at a pretty standard rate and his control hasn’t been horrible, but opposing batters are making way too much hard contact. Toronto, with its top-ranked offense, is tired of losing late leads.

Gibbons said he’ll use a committee at closer for now, but look for that committee to prominently feature 20-year-old right-hander Roberto Osuna. The hard-throwing youngster boasts a 2.12 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 40/10 K/BB ratio in 34 innings this season and he earned his first career save on Monday night in Tampa Bay. Steve Delabar is another option mentioned by some of the Blue Jays’ beat reporters, but he dirtied his resume Tuesday when he allowed a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. Osuna is the guy to own.

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Struggling Castillo Demoted To AAA

Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox last August and hit .333/.400/.528 with two home runs and three stolen bases last September in his first 10 major league games. But an early-spring oblique injury allowed Mookie Betts to beat him out for starting center field duties heading into the 2015 season and a mid-April shoulder injury at Triple-A Pawtucket prevented Castillo from making a quick climb back to the major leagues. The 27-year-old finally got called up on May 22 to fill an opening in right field, but he had a dreadful month and the Red Sox officially sent him back to Triple-A on Tuesday.

Castillo batted just .230/.260/.284 across 77 plate appearances in his second tour with Boston, tallying only one home run and one stolen base in 26 games. He has an intriguing, dynamic skill set, but the last-place Red Sox can’t afford to carry him along on their active roster with the hope that everything finally clicks.

Brock Holt started in right field for Boston on Tuesday night. Alejandro De Aza has also been getting semi-regular playing time out there. Shane Victorino (calf) could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as Wednesday.

National League Quick Hits: Braves placed first baseman Freddie Freeman on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 18, with a right wrist contusion … Matt Carpenter was held out of the Cardinals’ lineup Tuesday due to mid-back tightness … Anthony Rendon went a perfect 4-for-4 with an RBI in Tuesday's win over the Braves … Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud has landed back on the disabled list with a left elbow injury … Trevor Rosenthal earned his 22nd save of the season Tuesday in the Cardinals’ win over the Marlins … Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was placed on the disabled list late Tuesday night with a right ankle injury … Zack Greinke tossed six shutout innings Tuesday in a no-decision against the Cubs … Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to return from paternity leave on Thursday … Maikel Franco finished 2-for-3 with a home run and five RBI in the Phillies’ win over the Yankees on Tuesday … Yasmany Tomas was scratched from the Diamondbacks’ lineup Tuesday in Denver with altitude sickness … Andrew McCutchen launched a two-run homer in the Pirates’ defeat of the Reds on Tuesday … Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is day-to-day with a left hand sprain … Francisco Rodriguez tossed a perfect ninth inning Tuesday against the Mets to earn his 14th save … Hector Olivera has been placed on the 7-day disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma City with a hamstring strain … Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday night versus the Dodgers … Jenrry Mejia pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday in a Gulf Coast League game … Giancarlo Stanton hit his 26th home run of the season in Tuesday's loss to the Cardinals … Patrick Corbin (elbow) will make two more rehab starts before rejoining the Diamondbacks' rotation … Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado cranked two home runs in Tuesday’s defeat of the Diamondbacks ... Matt Cain (forearm) is on track to rejoin the Giants' rotation on July 3 … Giants outfielder Nori Aoki was a late scratch from Tuesday's lineup with a bruised right ankle.

American League Quick Hits: Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was out Tuesday and is not expected to play Wednesday due to ongoing discomfort in his left shoulder … Chris Archer held the Blue Jays to two runs -- one earned -- over eight innings Tuesday to earn his ninth victory … Josh Hamilton (hamstring) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with Double-A Frisco … Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is day-to-day with a lingering neck injury … Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 with an RBI in Boston’s loss to the Orioles on Tuesday … Yan Gomes was out again Tuesday because of neck stiffness … Rays manager Kevin Cash said Tuesday that Matt Moore (elbow) will join the rotation next week … Tigers ace David Price held the Indians to just one run over 6 2/3 innings Tuesday to earn his seventh win … Miguel Gonzalez (groin) is set to return to the Orioles' rotation Thursday against the Red Sox … White Sox slugger Jose Abreu had a four-hit night in Tuesday’s defeat of the Twins … Justin Verlander has been scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start due to mid-back stiffness … Reds catcher Blake Swihart remains day-to-day with a sprained left foot … Luis Valbuena hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season on Tuesday night as the Astros routed the Angels … A’s catcher Stephen Vogt (elbow) expects to return to the starting lineup Wednesday … Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis went 4-for-5 with an RBI double in the Indians’ loss to the Tigers on Tuesday … Andrew Heaney is a likely candidate to take Jered Weaver's (hip) spot in the Angels’ starting rotation … Mariners left-hander Mike Montgomery struck out 10 in a complete-game shutout Tuesday against the Royals … Jake Odorizzi (oblique) isn't expected to rejoin the Rays' rotation until after the All-Star break … Josh Phegley doubled in a pair of runs and smacked a solo homer in Tuesday's win over the Rangers.

Drew Silva

Drew Silva is a longtime baseball writer and editor for NBC Sports Edge. He can be found on Twitter.