Washington Nationals’ fans packed Nationals Park again Tuesday night to see rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg blaze fastballs by Atlanta Braves hitters. They became somewhat nervous when Strasburg didn’t run out of the bullpen for the first inning. MLB odds were not adjusted in time for the pitching change.
Pitching coach Steve McCatty approached Strasburg, and asked him one simple question.
“I just said, ‘Well, how’re you feeling?’ He said, ‘I feel stiff. My shoulder’s stiff,’ ” McCatty recounted.
“I said, ‘How bad?’ He said, ‘It’s just stiff, but I can get loose.’ I said, ‘Uh, no.’ And that was it,” McCatty continued.
Shoulder inflammation was the official diagnosis, and Miguel Batista was forced to make his first start in the Major Leagues in nearly two years. He went five innings, only allowing three hits, and striking out six. The Nationals’ bullpen combined for the shutout after Batista was lifted in the fifth.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made the final decision to pull Strasburg, protecting his investment for the future. MLB betting trends have fallen out of the Nationals favor after they were swept by the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. The teams hopes that Strasburg’s return will spark a new winning trend.
“Stephen was having trouble getting loose in the bullpen, and so I pulled the plug on it,” Rizzo said. “There’s no shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow.”
X-rays and an MRI showed no damage to be concerned about. Strasburg is listed as day to day. Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said he respected the Nationals decision to sit Strasburg.
“For him not to pitch was a little disappointing, but I applaud what the Nationals did, because that’s their franchise for the next 15 years, and if he wakes up with a hangnail, I’m pulling him out,” Jones said. “I want to protect my investment, protect that arm for the next 20 years. Because as he goes, they’re going to go.”
Strasburg’s absence might have brought the team down, but they showed poise on the base paths. Nyger Morgan singled to center in the bottom of the first, and stole his way to third. A throwing error allowed Morgan to cross the plate for what turned out to be the game-winning run. The game ended 3-0 in favor of the Nationals.
MLB lines have set the Nationals as the underdogs in the second game of the series behind Livan Hernandez at +120 odds. The Braves will start Tim Hudson, and are favored at -140.