ATLANTA — Stephen Strasburg will make his final minor league rehab start Thursday, Sept. 1, for Double-A Harrisburg. If all goes well, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, Strasburg would then slot into the Nationals’ major league rotation for his first post-Tommy John major league start on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Strasburg is expected to throw about 75 pitches over six innings for Harrisburg on Tuesday, thus culminating his year-long rehab process from Tommy John surgery. If he remains on track, he will stand on the Nationals major league mound one year and three days after undergoing the surgery.
“I think it’s great,” Johnson said. “He was all worried because he was getting beat up in Hagerstown and I said, ‘Don’t worry about it, just get your work in. Throw your innings and don’t over throw.’ He went down and had a great outing. He’ll get one more and we’ll take it from there.”
He threw five perfect innings for Triple-A Syracuse in his last rehab start before surrendering two hits to open the sixth inning. In discussing the Nationals plans to call-up left-hander Tom Milone to start on Saturday in Jordan Zimmermann’s place, Johnson let it slip that Strasburg would soon be officially joining the Nationals rotation.
“Another young pitcher’s coming up,” Johnson said. “He’s going to make his last start in the minor leagues on Thursday, his name is Strasburg.”
Strasburg delivered one of the most electric debuts in major league history last year when he struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in his debut in front of a packed house at Nationals Park. This second debut will be a bit muted in comparison as Johnson said, if it was up to him, he would hold Strasburg to about four innings and/or 60 pitches.
“I always discount whatever they did in the minor leagues,” Johnson said. “I’m sure there’ll be recommendations on how long he can go, how many pitches, but I always err on the cautious side, especially in his case.”
Johnson said one route he could go is to piggy back another future call-up, like Brad Peacock, on the same day as Strasburg, similar to the way he handled Chien-Ming Wang when he first returned to the Nationals’ active roster.