The Washington Nationals reached new heights tonight going to 18-games over .500 putting them at the 90-win mark if they just play .500 baseball the remainder of the way — but this team has more loftier goals. Tonight, it was Stephen Strasburg who pitched an eight inning shutout in this 7-0 victory yielding only two hits which both came in the first inning and then Stras went in cruise control with 14Ks on the night. He did throw 107 pitches over 8.0 innings which were mostly low stress and that vaulted Stras into the top spot for the most pitches thrown in the NL at 2,865 while pushing his ERA down to 3.47. The offense was mostly provided by Rendon’s two home runs, Soto’s home run, Suzuki’s home run, and Strasburg’s RBI single.
“They work really good at-bats,” manager Dave Martinez said about Rendon and Soto. “And they can beat you in many ways. They both hit the long ball, but they both hit doubles — they go the other way. They can take their walks. Those two guys 3-4 there, they are probably one of the best[duos] in baseball. They can beat you in so many ways.”
Speaking of Anthony Rendon, he is up to 109 RBIs on the season and 31 home runs, and Juan Soto joined Rendon in the 30 HR Club. That duo is wreaking havoc as Soto has 92 RBIs on his way to 100+. Rendon is just adding to his candidacy for the MVP award and this is legitimate.
— Captain Obvious (@NatsCaptObvious) August 31, 2019
For Soto joining the 30 HR Club, he is the third youngest to reach that plateau, bettering former Nats manager Frank Robinson by 45 days as Soto achieved this mark at 20 years and 310 days old. Mel Ott achieved the feat in 20 years 161 days, and Tony Conigliaro in 20 years 253 days. Soto now has 52 career home runs, and is just 4 home runs away from tying Tony C. for the second highest home run total before his 21st birthday.
As mentioned, Strasburg gave up two singles in the first inning, and he got a comebacker that started a doubleplay and fortunately Trea Turner saved a wide through to athletically stay on the bad and finish the 1-6-3 inning-ender and after that the Nats just rolled. Stras had a 2-0 lead going into the second inning, and that was more than what he needed.
“He was awesome,” manager Dave Martinez said. Congratulations to him. “He got his sixteenth win. … I’m very proud of what he’s done this year.”
Tomorrow is September 1st, and that allows teams to expand rosters which will be changed next season to a cap of 28 in the month of September. The Nationals will activate Sean Doolittle and Ryan Zimmerman from the 10-day IL list, and manager Dave Martinez indicated that shortly afterwards as the Minor League season ends they should have a roster of 30 to 32 players. With the DFA of Matt Grace, one spot has opened on the 40-man roster, and that spot could go to Greg Holland. The Nationals will have to decide on Jeremy Hellickson who will come with a high price tag as he is in the $200,000 bonus portion of his contract for every milestone he hits in his contract.
Hellickson is paid bonuses at $200,000 per milestone at 3/5/7/9/11/12/14/16/18/21/23 games played & above that at $300,000 per milestone at 25/26/27/28/29/30 games played for a maximum total of $4 million. If he plays 30 games, he will max-out his earnings at $5.3 million! #Nats
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) August 31, 2019
Because there are CBT threshold issues, general manager will have to manage to the totality of the payroll and that $206 million number. Each player who is brought up will cost the Nats about $95,000 for the month. Rizzo cannot at this point exceed the CBT threshold.