Strasburg finally reaching his peak
September 19, 2017 3:03 AM
by Ramon Scott
The Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg looks like he is finally in peak form heading into the postseason.
Strasburg has been healthy for just one start (‘14 vs. SF, a loss) over the Nats’ three playoff appearances over the last five years, and Washington never got out of the division series, including last year’s Game 5 loss to Los Angeles while “Stras” was sidelined with a torn tendon.
Although his scoreless innings streak was halted at 35 Sunday night, Strasburg sent a message that he’ll be post-season ready as the Nationals avoided a three-game sweep by the visiting Dodgers by winning his fourth consecutive start in a 7-1 victory.
The 29-year-old Strasburg has now thrown his hat into the ring in the NL Cy Young race with teammate Max Scherzer and Dodgers’ star Clayton Kershaw, as he finishes what looks to be his finest season in a career of strong, but shortened, campaigns.
But that’s just icing on the cake considering he’ll be able to team with Scherzer and another top-line star in Gio Gonzalez to form one of the best postseason trios.
The Nationals are currently 8-to-1 to win the World Series, which rates as the fourth choice, along with Boston and the Cubs, and the 13-5 second choice for the National League pennant behind the Dodgers (3-2).
Boston Red Sox (-220, 9u20) at Baltimore Orioles (Wed., 4): Chris Sale has had rough outings in four of his last six outings, but has had a couple of Sale-like bouncebacks in a couple of those, so not sure if you can ever consider it a decent price with him especially this late in the season when favorite prices skyrocket. Still, Red Sox are trying to hold off Yanks in a mid-Sept. contest. Orioles’ Wade Miley has lost three straight and got chased in the first by the Yanks last out.
Arizona Diamondbacks (-180, 8o15) at San Diego Padres (Wed., 6:10): Robbie Ray is helping give Wild Card-bound Arizona a sure one-two punch in the postseason. Simply put, he’s been the best pitcher in the league over the last two weeks and a top 10 hurler overall. His road mark shows his success with his 8-1 record and 1.33 ERA away. The Padres’ likely go with Clayton Richard here, who mixes in a gem every once in a while in between several mediocre starts.
Minnesota Twins (-120, 10.5) at Detroit Tigers (Thu., 4:10): Twins still in pressure games, leading Angels by just two games for second Wild Card entering the week. Having Adalberto Mejia go can’t be the best scenario, but it will have to do for now. Mejia has given up 10 runs over his last 10+ innings in his last three appearances. Fortunately for the Twins, Jordan Zimmerman, of the Tigers, has been straight garbage of late, allowing 29 earned runs over his last five starts (23+ IP).
Washington Nationals (-130, 8.5o15) at Atlanta Braves (Thu., 4:35): The Nats’ Tanner Roark has won four of his last five starts, allowing less than one walk per game over that stint. Washington may lack some motivation at times down the stretch with position somewhat certain and Bryce Harper’s return timetable still uncertain, though he took batting practice this weekend. The Braves’ Sean Newcomb is down over four units so far in the rotation, but is coming off of a win with 8 Ks over 5 IP last out.
St. Louis Cardinals (-105, 9o15) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Fri., 4:05): They’re all must wins for the Cards now, as Michael Wacha against the Bucs, which has a lineup that hits around .300 against him lifetime. Wacha is down nearly four units on the season despite a 12-8 record overall. Chad Kuhl, for the Bucs, hasn’t been awful in the second half, though his start last Friday was a clunker, certainly making the hosts worth a look.
Cleveland Indians (-180, 8.5u15) at Seattle Mariners (Fri., 7:10): No one wanted Cleveland’s magical run to end, but alas it did, although the Indians’ confidence is booming. Carlos Carrasco won his 16th game of the season on Saturday and is 102 on the road with a 2.71 ERA. Indians still with motivation now that they have passed Houston for home field and even have the Dodgers in sight. The M’s go with Erasmo Ramirez, who just hasn’t been rewarded with wins for as well as he has pitched.
New York Yankees (-125, 10.5) at Toronto Blue Jays (Sat., 1:07): Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery won for the first time since July 25, beating the Orioles in his longest stint since that previous win. The Jays’ Joe Biagini has actually been quite strong in a few appearances against this expecting Bomber lineup, but he’s had mixed results since joining the rotation, but has a 3-11 overall record this season.
San Francisco Giants (-105, 8o20) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Sat., 6:10): Madison Bumgarner only came back to finish the season so he could get his hacks at the plate. He just lost his fourth straight and is 3-9 this season. Maybe his downswing can provide some value here as he could get up for a game against the struggling Dodgers. He’s still certainly been as good as the Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu, who comes in here off of several quality starts of late.
Chicago Cubs (-107, 7.5u20) at Milwuakee Brewers (Sun. 11:10): Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson won his 10th game of the season and starts here in this big series for both teams. Anderson has a 2.88 ERA this season in 120 innings and is 5-0 at home. Jon Lester, of the Cubs, still projects as a near top ten hurler despite his regression this season, and now he has won his last three starts as the Cubs try to secure the division title.
Los Angeles Angels (+130, 8.5o20) at Houston Astros (Sun., 5): Angels are still scrambling to catch Twins and certainly can’t be considered out of it with recent strong return of Garrett Richards. Here, Tyler Skaggs gets the ball for the Halos, as he is looking for his first road win still. Meanwhile, the Astros’ Collin McHugh was expected to pitch on Tuesday following a finger injury as his postseason role seems undefined for now. Still, he has been relatively solid since his comeback and certainly will be counted on.