Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is nearing the end of his stay in Florida and the end of a lengthy, arduous road back from Tommy John surgery. He will throw a simulated game in Florida on Tuesday and the next test for Strasburg could be on a mound at one of their affiliates.
Strasburg could make a rehab start in the next week to 10 days, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Monday, thereby starting the clock on when the Nationals’ ace will find himself back on a major league mound. Johnson said the first rehab start would most likely come with an affiliate that’s at home as both Single-A Hagerstown and Single-A Potomac will be at various times during that time frame. Hagerstown will be at home August 5-8 and Potomac starting on the 8th. In speculative terms, the fifth day after Strasburg’s simulated game Tuesday would be Sunday, August 7. The Suns play a 4:05 p.m. game against Greensboro.
Strasburg has been throwing simulated games for the last two weeks or so, every fifth day, and he’s been clocked between 92 and 95 easily. The Nationals are encouraged by his performance and the shape that the right-hander has kept himself in over the past year.
Obviously once Strasburg begins a rehab assignment all eyes will be on the calendar to figure out when he might make his major league return. Johnson has made no secret he think it could be in early September and the Nationals affiliates’ regular seasons end on September 5.
Johnson said Monday he’d like Strasburg to slide into the Nationals rotation in the spot that will be vacated by Jordan Zimmermann when he reaches his innings limit in roughly four more starts — thought that does not mean the Nationals will rush Strasburg if he has not progressed to their liking. He underwent surgery on Sept. 3 so he is about a month from the one-year anniversary, meaning there’s no need to rush.