Assuming there are no setbacks health-wise, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will return to the majors and make his first start with the Nationals on September 6th, at home versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to a source close to the Nationals.
Strasburg will pitch tomorrow night, the 17th, for the Hagerstown Suns. The Nationals want to keep him on a regular 5-day schedule, so he would then likely pitch for the Suns again on the 22nd. August 27th would be a start for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs, and then Strasburg’s final tuneup would be on September 1st, pitching for the Harrisburg Senators. Nationals brass have been careful to make sure he pitches in a “controlled” environment (read: home ballparks) during his minor league rehab starts.
The schedule sets up nicely for the Nationals, as they would get Strasburg’s first three major league starts of the season at home: September 6th vs the Dodgers, September 11th vs the Astros, and September 16th vs the Marlins. In fact, the Nationals have stopped letting season ticket holders redeem their Red Carpet Rewards (additional free tickets) for those specific three games, instead hoping to monetize Strasburg’s return and sell out the stadium. It should be an electric first night for Strasburg at Nats Park on September 6th.
I’m not going to go into a player by player review of what the Nats have accomplished or failed to accomplish this season. However, I’m going to share a few key thoughts about how the Nats should approach the second half of the season.
Put on the trading block any pitcher on the active roster not named Strasburg, Storen or Clippard. You’ll notice I did not protect Capps there. While Capps is having a great year, holding onto a solid closer is not as critical when you are not headed to the post-season. And he could probably bring more in return right now than any other non-protected pitcher on the staff. Plus, he’s not making a ton of money this season, so a lot of teams would jump at the chance to have him. More on this later.
Play Nyjer every day in center until July 31st, hope for a surge, and try and trade him too. If he is not traded by the 31st and he has not gotten more consistent in every aspect of his game, then beginning in August make Bernie the starting CF and start Morse in right the rest of the season. We need to see if these guys are going to be able to be everyday players next season.
Trade Guz if we can get anything decent in return. Sign Dunn now to an extension.
Finally, we have got to be active in the free agent market this offseason. We need 2 quality starting pitchers, a closer if Capps is traded, another solid setup man, a big name second baseman who can hit for power and average, and a big bat in RF if Bernie or Morse don’t look like the solution by the end of the season. SPEND THE MONEY Lerners! We can’t wait any longer for the guys in the farm system to mature and hopefully become stars at the major league level. If you wait 3 more years, Zim’s contract will be up and who know if he’ll really re-sign here if we haven’t shown a commitment to winning by then. We don’t need to be buyers at the trade deadline. But please, be buyers in the offseason. If only takes cash to do that; you don’t have to part with top prospects. Take a chance on spending some money. We could contend next year if we do this. Thanks for reading.
There’s not much more that can be said about last night other than Wow. Between the 14k, zero walk performance and the amazing electricity of the crowd, it was a night to remember. I can’t wait for Strasburg’s next start, and especially his next home start. I can only hope it will be another sellout, or close. It gives you hope of what it can and will be like when we get a few more pieces of the puzzle in place and become a playoff-caliber team. In 5+ seasons of Nats baseball, I’ve never seen the crowd hang on every pitch like they did last night. We can’t expect 14ks every time he goes out there, especially once teams gather some scouting reports on him. But it certainly looks like he is the real deal. Go Nats!
It’s a great day to be a Nats Fan…4 games over .500, Bernadina possibly finding his groove, Strasburg pitching a no-hitter through 6. Gotta love it. I realized that I hadn’t written a post in while when I read today that Jason Marquis is going to have surgery to repair bone chips in his elbow. The I thought, hey, I called that out in my last post 3 weeks ago. I’m still kind of amazed they let him waste 3 weeks trying to cure it with rest. As Rizzo was quoted as saying, “It didn’t work, so it set us back for about three weeks.” C’mon Mike, you’re better than that. I’m sure he’s mad at himself for letting Marquis convince him he could work through it.
Back to Strasburg, if they keep him pitching every 5th day, that would potentially have him starting on July 6 at home vs the Reds. Expect a sellout at the ballpark.
Today we’ll get to see Strasburg make his spring training debut, and start bringing all of the hype to another level. What to expect? Well for starters, probably a lot of fastballs. They’ll want to stick to his bread and butter while he gets his feet wet, and I doubt they’ll want to risk many breaking pitches because of both his arm and his psyche. No need to risk blowing out the guy’s elbow or shattering his confidence early.
Will we see a Mariano Rivera type reaction where guys whiff and flail even though they are 90% sure a fastball is coming? Who knows. Even reigning all-stars often get hit around when they first start spring training and are knocking the rust off, as well as facing hitters they’ve never seen before. He also might strike out the side his first time out there. No need to panic either way. Building him up slowly and putting him in a situation that minimizes potential injury is the primary concern his first few times out. It will be interesting to see if the game is completely sold out.
Members of the Nats Nation (ha, I realize this doesn’t exist for teams that lose 103 games) will undoubtedly be talking over the next few weeks about Strasburg’s results in the AFL and his potential to be part of the rotation next season. Yesterday’s result proved that he is human, allowing 8 earned runs in his second start. As the eternal optimist, I’m thinking that perhaps this was a good thing. It eliminates the false hope that he is going to come in and be a 15 game winner in his rookie season. I’m not knocking his potential, but these were double A hitters that blew him up, so at least everyone realizes that he has work to do to become a major league pitcher. More importantly, hopefully the Nats’ front office will not try and pencil him in as part of the 2010 rotation already, which would be an easy excuse not to sign as much starting pitching from the free agent market.
If we want to be decent next year, I still believe we need to sign a #1 and a #3 starter for our rotation. Plug Lannan in at #2, Olsen at #4, and pick the #5 guy from whichever of this group rises to the top during spring training: Martin, Martis, Mock, Stammen, Balester, Detwiler and perhaps Chico. Zimmermann likely will not pitch at all next season in the big leagues. When the injury bug bites, another one of them will probably end up back in the rotation. 2-3 of the guys in that group should make the roster as relievers. That being said, we still need at least 2 new quality, proven arms in the bullpen, which we need to find in the offseason.
Posted in Starting Rotation, Washington Nationals
Tagged Colin Balester, Craig Stammen, Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Chico, Ross Detwiler, Shairon Martis, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Well we’re in the final 5 days of the signing period, and it looks like this signing, if it happens, is going to go down to the wire. While I think the money he’s asking for is ludicrous, I have to ask this: If the Nationals didn’t want to pay this guy, why draft him at No.1? You should have drafted the 2nd or 3rd best guy on the board,and paid him in line with what past draftees have gotten. They didn’t want to pay Crow last year and he walked. If they don’t want to pay Strasburg, they shouldn’t have drafted him. And if they didn’t do their research on what he was going to demand, then we have even bigger problems to worry about. It really pains me to see them shell out that kind of dough to a guy unproven at the Major League (or even Minor League) level, but the Nats made their bed and now they have to sleep in it and sign him. If they don’t, they need to take that money and step away from The Plan this winter and sign 2 proven starters, 2 proven relievers, and a second baseman or an outfielder. We need to resolve that revolving door at 2nd base one way or another.