Right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who has been on the disabled list since July 25, is slated to start at home on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, manager Dave Martinez said Sunday.
Strasburg, bothered by neck problems, threw a bullpen session Saturday at Nationals Park and came away feeling well, Martinez said.
The other probable starters for the Nationals in the key series against the Phillies is right-hander Tanner Roark (8-12, 4.13) on Tuesday and ace Max Scherzer (16-5, 2.11) on Thursday afternoon. The Nationals are off Monday.
“We set our rotation this morning. He is feeling good. He will pitch game two,” Martinez said of Strasburg. “He got himself ready to pitch for us … against a team we are trying to catch.”
There was a chance Strasburg could have made a minor league rehab appearance. But instead, he will face the Phillies and will not be under a pitch restriction, Martinez said.
“We will see how the game goes,” Martinez said.
A former No. 1 overall draft pick, Strasburg has made just 14 starts this year and is 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA. He made 28 starts last year, 24 in 2016 and 23 in 2015. The only time in his career he has made more than 30 starts was 2014, when he made 34.
The Nationals also hope that reliever Kelvin Herrera (right rotator cuff impingement), on the DL since August 8, can return at some point during the Phillies series.
That is not the case for injured closer Sean Doolittle, who has been on the disabled list since July 10 with left toe inflammation.
“We are hoping Herrera will be back. We will see. I can’t say Doolittle will be back,” Martinez said.
“Doolittle said he felt okay. Not great but okay,” Martinez said.
Doolittle is 3-2, 1.45 with 22 saves while Herrera is 1-2, 4.76 in 19 games with the Nationals.
Another injured reliever, Ryan Madson (2-5, 5.19) has been working out in Arizona, according to Martinez. He has been on the disabled list since Tuesday with lumbar nerve root irritation.
The third-place Nationals (62-62) entered Sunday seven games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves and 6.5 games behind the second-place Phillies. The Nationals were also six games back of St. Louis for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
Washington missed a golden chance to gain ground on the Braves and Phillies, who both lost Saturday. The Nationals lost Saturday night in 10 innings to the Marlins, 7-5.