CHICAGO — One day after Stephen Strasburg made his much-anticipated first rehab start in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, the Nationals said the right-hander will make his second start Friday. The location, though, is still to be determined and won’t be decided until after Strasburg throws a side session in Washington on Tuesday.
Strasburg will make his next start with either Single-A Potomac or Double-A Harrisburg. Both are home on Friday. While Potomac’s field has come under much scrutiny, sending Strasburg to Double-A for his second start might be too big of a jump for him, now just 11 months removed from surgery.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that while right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was on a program where he built up his arm strength with two, three, four and then five-inning outings before dropping back down and starting again at two innings and then building back up, Strasburg will likely only be built up once due to time constraints. Strasburg will most likely be built up to about five innings and 80 pitches by the end of his rehab assignment.
– Tonight’s Nationals game against the Cubs is delayed and no start time has been announced. It’s been raining pretty steadily here at Wrigley Field for much of the afternoon.
While we wait, a few more notes…
– The Nationals are not, right now, considering taking Livan Hernandez out of the rotation and calling up one of their young starters before the rosters expand on Sept. 1 because, frankly, there’s not an urgent need.
The two most likely candidates for a call-up would be left-hander Tom Milone and right-hander Brad Peacock. While both have done nothing this season to taint the organization’s view of them as integral pieces of the future, Milone is making his first start since July 28 after dealing with some bicep soreness and tiredness and Peacock has made just five starts at the Triple-A level.
In order for the Nationals to call either up before the rosters expand on Sept. 1, it would take dominant performances from them that force Washington’s hand to make a move.
– Laynce Nix was feeling better Monday afternoon after getting hit this weekend in Denver with the same flu-like symptoms that affected Johnson and third base coach Bo Porter last week. Nix hasn’t started since Friday night with Jonny Gomes getting a chance for more consistent at-bats in his absence, but he said as far as his health goes, he’d be fine to be in the lineup on Tuesday. Nix did come off the bench (and apparently out of a slumber) Sunday afternoon to get hit late in the Nationals 3-2 victory over the Rockies.
– Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is slated to make his third start of the season Monday night (if the game is played) and while the Nationals still aren’t expecting Wang to be the pitcher who won 19 games for the Yankees not too long ago, they are expecting to see progress from his previous two starts.
“I expect him to be better,” Johnson said. “He showed me progress in his second outing over the first and I expect that he’s getting stronger. I’m hopeful that his sinker is working and I can extend him a little farther (into the game).
“He’s been such a great pitcher. I still think he has a chance to come pretty much all the way back and I’m glad he’s going to be able to do it here.”