NEW YORK -- By the time you read this, I'll hopefully be 35,000 feet in the air, making my way from New York to Denver for this weekend's four-game series at Coors Field. The Rockies were supposed to play a doubleheader yesterday against the Phillies, but Game 2 was postponed because of rain and snow. Yes, snow.
Fortunately, the forecast calls for a bit milder conditions today. Highs in the low 50s, with the temperatures dipping into the 40s around gametime. It's supposed to warm up a little more as the weekend plays out, up into the high 60s.
In the game that was played there yesterday, Roy Halladay got a no-decision for the Phillies. Why is this important? Because it leaves Tyler Clippard as the only seven-game winner in the major leagues right now. Ubaldo Jimenez (6-1) will have a chance to match Clippard tomorrow night when he squares off against Livan Hernandez, though by then Tyler could have another win for all we know.
It's really starting to border on the absurd for Clippard. He's picked up the decision, win or lose, in each of his last five appearances. That just doesn't happen to relievers. He's on pace to win 33 games by season's end. And yes, that would obliterate the major-league record for a reliever, set in 1959 by Elroy Face of the Pirates (he went 18-1).
If you were wondering (and I'm sure you were), Face got off to a similarly hot start that season. He was already 6-0 after the Pirates played their 31st game of the year (which put him one game ahead of Clippard's pace). But Face didn't earn win No. 7 until game No. 48, so Tyler's got some breathing room on him now.
Common sense says Clippard can't possibly keep up a pace anywhere close to this. Even if he continues to pitch the eighth inning two out of every three games, the odds of every game's outcome being determined in the eighth inning are minimal. Eventually, the Nats have to take an early lead (or fall behind early) and hold it. Right? Right?
Maybe not. Did you realize that this team's last eight games have all been decided by two runs or less? (The Nats are 5-3 over that span.) Yet another remarkable and unexplainable fact about this team.
Stephen Strasburg is plenty remarkable (and hardly unexplainable). You already know this by now, but the right-hander tossed six no-hit innings for Class AAA Syracuse against Norfolk (the Orioles' affiliate) last night. His overall numbers are straight out of a video game. In two starts at Syracuse, he's 2-0 with an 0.00 ERA, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out 13. In seven total starts between Syracuse and Harrisburg, he's now 5-1 with a 1.06 ERA. In 34 innings, he's allowed four earned runs and 14 hits, with a 40-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Which begs the question: What on earth is possibly left for him to accomplish in the minor leagues? In a word: Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. (OK, that was four words all with the same meaning.)
In some ways, Mike Rizzo would perhaps be better off just coming out and saying the only reason Strasburg will remain in the minors for another three weeks is because it will save the organization money, probably millions of dollars. Any other justification Rizzo tries to make is pure hogwash at this point. Just come out and say it. There's no embarrassment or PR hit in doing so. Everyone understands this is how the system works. No one faults the Nationals for doing it this way. It's not cheap on their part to do it. It makes perfect business sense.
Perhaps Rizzo will have more to say about the phenom later today in Colorado. If he does, I'll be sure to pass it along.