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Strasburg could return to pitch Sunday

Aug 29, 2013, 11:42 AM EST

Associated Press Associated Press

After throwing only 22 pitches before his start was cut short by a lengthy rain delay, Stephen Strasburg could return to pitch on short rest and take the mound Sunday night against the Mets.

Manager Davey Johnson said he will consider bringing Strasburg back on three days’ rest, provided the right-hander experiences no physical setbacks over the next 48 hours.

“We’ll see how he is tomorrow and the next day, but he could come back Sunday,” Johnson said following Wednesday night’s 4-3 win over the Marlins. “So we’ll just have to see how we get through tomorrow and the next day.”

The Nationals already faced a quandary in choosing a starter for Sunday night’s nationally televised game against New York. It would be Ross Ohlendorf’s regular turn to pitch, but Johnson had plans to move the veteran right-hander (who has appeared to run out of gas by the middle innings in his last two starts) to the bullpen and move rookie Tanner Roark into the rotation.

Strasburg, though, could now be bumped up a day after his abbreviated start on Wednesday. He tossed two quick scoreless innings, retiring six of seven batters faced, and had thrown only 22 total pitches when heavy rain suddenly descended upon Nationals Park (with Strasburg in the batter’s box at the time).

Johnson would have brought Strasburg back had the delay been limited to roughly 45 minutes, but it stretched to 1 hour, 12 minutes, well beyond the threshold the manager would have for any pitcher. Strasburg’s back also tightened up a bit while he tried to stay loose during the delay.

“It was a no-brainer at that point,” Johnson said. “Generally speaking, maximum for me is about an hour. But the fact that he got a little bit stiff in the back, he’s not even going to hit in that situation.”

After the game, Strasburg said he hadn’t considered the possibility of returning to pitch before his next regularly scheduled start, which would come Monday against the Phillies. But he didn’t sound particularly eager to bump that outing up.

“I don’t really know. I can’t answer that right now,” he said. “It’s a good win for us, but I don’t really think it would matter. I think everybody’s healthy and pitching well, so I’d say keep it going.”

  1. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    What does Davey Johnson mean by ‘physical setbacks’? I’m not one of those arguing for a return to four-man rotations, no pitch or innings limits, etc., but I can’t imagine that Stephen Strasburg wouldn’t be able to pitch on Sunday. In fact, I raised the question yesterday of whether he might be ready on Friday (or, at least, Saturday). Unless there’s some issue about which we’re unaware, this seems right a no-brainer. Refer back to Earl Weaver’s rule about getting your best pitchers on the mound as often as possible.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      …like a no-brainer…

  2. Eugene in Oregon - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    One other thought: In both the gamer and the instant analysis, Mark Zuckerman correctly notes that the Nats didn’t gain any ground on the Reds. But almost equally important is positioning themselves to be next in line, and in that respect they picked up a game on the Diamondbacks. Odds of catching the Reds remains low, but first you have to get by Arizona.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Mike Morse to the Orioles…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Not a great secret. I wrote about that even during July. Typical that the Orioles had the need but didn’t want to pay his prorated salary. Now they pay 30 days.

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Im not concerned about SS right now.. Just put him back out there for his regular rotation…

    I am concerned a little about Gio though… Hopefully, he can go 7 tonight…

  5. CN - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Two ex-Nats, Morse & Willingham claimed by the Orioles, but I suspect that was more to block the Ray from picking up either of those guys. Would be neat to see the Twins (Willingham is due $7M next yr) and Mariners let those guys go for free. I think Morse is owed about $1.25M the rest of the way. Might as well get cap relief if the O’s just bluffed to block the Rays et al. Alright, enough of the O’s talk, just had to chime in on these 2 ex-nats.

    How good is that Morse trade w/ Oak looking now? Krol had some bumps, but has good stuff and is 22. Cole was mediocre at P-Nats, but is bursting onto the scene in AA

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Good for Morse. It was reliably reported that Camden Yards was designed so that all of Cal’s fly ball outs and doubles to the wall at Memorial Stadium would be home runs in the new park. So that ought to suit Morse just fine.

    • alexva6 - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      so far it’s just a claim, Seattle can revoke the waivers. given that Balt also claimed Willingham and is working out the trade with Minn, this gives them leverage. doubt they’ll end up with both

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Agree w/ Eugene about catching AZ, espec. as they are — I think — the next-to-last opponents of the season.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Last three for Nats are at AZ.

  8. natsfan1a - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Three before that are at (boo, hiss) STL.

  9. bowdenball - Aug 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I’m confused. If Strasburg pitches Sunday, who pitches Monday? Wouldn’t they still need Roark or Ohlendorf to go then? If so, what’s the benefit? Usually the reason for shuffling the rotation and having an ace pitch earlier than usual is to avoid starts by the back end; how is that accomplished here?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Thurs Gio
      Fri JZim
      Sat Haren
      Sunday Stras

      Mon in Philly ?
      Tues Gio
      Wed JZim

      Thurs Day off

      • bowdenball - Aug 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        Exactly. Where’s the benefit? Maybe after the day off I guess, but you can use a day off to skip a starter regardless of whether or not you reshuffle the rotation.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Just thinking out loud, but Davey might like the matchup (either Roark or Ohlendorf) better against the Phillies than the Mets, or maybe the extra day off buys Ohlendorf a few more pitches on Monday.

      The network would probably rather see Strasburg on Sunday night, but I doubt Davey cares about that.

  10. Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 29, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Although … Strasburg may be more likely to have … ummm, that especially good start we’ve all been predicting he’ll get one day against the Mets, and it’d be nice if it were on Sunday night baseball. Just saying.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Yes, that would be just perfect. What? Oh, er. Maybe it would not be such a hit after all. What?

    • Steady Eddie - Aug 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Just working by process of elimination, that guess makes as much sense as any other.

      It’s not a matter of lining him up better for the end of the season, because — if you assume he starts every fifth game — the difference between his starting on Sun vs Monday works out to him pitching the next-to-last vs the last game of the regular season. Even in the course of assuming hypothetically that either of those games could have any significance, no basis at this point to assume one would have more than the other.

      And having Stras start either clearly doesn’t line him up for any potential do-or-die game that might occur after that. Which would make no sense to do anyway. Our very tiny postseason chance at this point requires the team virtually to win out, so any assumption that we could pitch Stras (or Gio or JZimm) on longer rest by throwing in a few starts by call-up pitchers — even against favorable matchups with the Mets, Phils, or Fish — really doesn’t make much sense.





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