Stephen Strasburg will take the mound at Nationals Park Tuesday afternoon, one year and three days after the Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and almost exactly 15 months after his major league debut electrified the baseball world on June 8, 2010.
Wilson Ramos will catch him, though Nationals manager Davey Johnson certainly expects to have a few others willing to volunteer for the assignment, and the Nationals are expecting a large crowd, though not one that is completely sold out just yet.
There’s only one problem: the forecast. Rain is predicted to fall for much of the day on Tuesday, including steadily through the evening. If Strasburg warms up at all, and the game is delayed, he will not pitch.
“If he warms up and it rains, we’ll probably have to do it another day,” Johnson said. “You don’t want, whether it’s Strasburg or any other starter, to go through any kind of rain delay. Hopefully, we’ll have no rain. He’ll get his work in, and we’ll move on. I don’t like those negative kind of questions. Can you give me a better forecast or something?”
If Strasburg does not pitch, the Nationals will have an ample stable of other pitchers capable of throwing Tuesday night, including right-hander Brad Peacock who is expected to be added to the roster Tuesday and to piggy back off Strasburg and enter the game as a reliever once Strasburg is done for the day.
If tomorrow is the day that Strasburg makes his long-awaited return to a major league mound, or if it’s Wednesday, Johnson said he’s excited to add another piece back to the puzzle for the Nationals’ long term plans.
“Any time anybody is a part of your projected starting staff comes back, you’re excited about it,” Johnson said. “And he’s projected to be our No. 1 guy so there’s going to be a lot more buzz, a lot more excitement… We’re all anxious for him to come back and be healthy.”