A couple more things before I wrap up:
--The Nationals optioned Justin Maxwell to Triple-A Syracuse after the game to make room for Matt Chico, who will pitch tomorrow. Maxwell was brought up to help the Nats get through a run of left-handed pitching, but wasn’t playing much with the run of righties they’d faced lately. So they sent him down to play every day. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “Just imagine you have a job and you keep getting shipped around. That’s the only thing I compare it to. But I’m doing what I love. I know they like me, and I know what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to go play. I wasn’t getting the at-bats right now, so I’m going to go get the at-bats somewhere else.” Maxwell hit .154 in 17 games, but posted a .395 on-base percentage.
--Stephen Strasburg’s first start at Syracuse was as spellbinding as his last one at Double-A Harrisburg. The No. 1 overall pick allowed one hit in six innings, striking out six and walking one. He threw 45 of 65 pitches for strikes, and even drove in a run. It’s hard to see Syracuse being much of a challenge for him, but plans are plans.
--Heard today that the Nationals are trying Collin Balester in the bullpen after the right-hander continued to struggle in the starting rotation. The 23-year-old has an 11.57 ERA at Syracuse, and the Nationals are hoping his lively fastball and sharp curve can translate to the kind of success Tyler Clippard’s had in the bullpen. Stay tuned.