We're going to go a little low-tech tonight for Stephen Strasburg's fourth start at Triple-A Syracuse (which starts at 7 p.m. on MASN and MASN HD). In between packing for the West Coast and going for a Race for the Cure training run with my wife, I'll post a few Strasburg thoughts here and there. And if you'd like to chime in, you know the drill: Leave your comments at the bottom of this post.
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7:36: Strasburg has thrown 20 pitches in his first two innings, striking out two and allowing one hit. But he just caught a bad break when Deik Scram (where do they find these names in the International League?) hit a ball that got caught under the right-field bullpen. Strasburg has a runner on third with one out, so we'll see if he can strand a runner here.
7:39: We've got a run on Strasburg -- but it's unearned. Strasburg threw a hard sinker that got by Devin Ivany and went for a passed ball, and Scram scored.
7:58: Strasburg's given up a couple hits here early in the fourth, and has runners on second and third. He's been done in by what might be his biggest bugaboo - elevating his fastball. And now he's given up a second run, on a 95-mph sinker up the zone, which Casper Wells punched through the hole at short. He's got to work out of another jam here; he's keeping good velocity on his fastball from the stretch, but the Mud Hens are making solid contact on him.
8:03: Give Strasburg credit for pitching out of a jam in the fourth. He threw a nasty inside sinker to strike out Brent Dlugach looking, and Scram hit a hard liner that shortstop Pedro Lopez caught on a diving grab for the third out. Strasburg stranded two runners, and the Chiefs and Mud Hens are tied at two.
8:14: Well, THAT was a fun promotion -- contestants roll two huge dice down the protective screen behind home plate, and if they match, the contestants win whatever they line up to show. Strasburg is starting his fifth inning, having thrown 44 pitches and 30 strikes through four innings, and struck out Robinson Diaz on a high 97-mph fastball to begin the fifth.
8:17: Strasburg gets a 1-2-3 fifth on eight pitches. He's been able to keep his pitch counts down with a number of exceedingly quick innings; it'll be interesting to see how often he's able to do that against major-league hitters.
8:27: Strasburg is done, after just five innings and 52 pitches. His final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 52 pitches, 36 strikes. He did have to pitch out of a number of jams, though, so he probably got enough work on that part of his game. Sending him out for another inning of mowing down batters didn't really seem worthwhile...unless there's a bigger stage planned for him later in the week.
His updated stats at Triple-A Syracuse are: 23 1/3 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 27 K. And his ERA at Syracuse? 0.39.
So he's done for the night, and when and where his next start will come is a question that will have to be answered in the next several days. There's a possibility Strasburg could start for the Nationals on Saturday in San Diego, though it's more likely they'd call up J.D. Martin (who would pitch Friday for the Chiefs) or Matt Chico (who would pitch Saturday) and hold off Strasburg's start until June 4 against the Reds. From what I've heard, Martin would pitch Friday, Chico on Saturday and Strasburg on Sunday, though one of those pitchers is likely headed to the majors, which would affect the schedule for the other two. But we'll see what happens in the next few days.