The Nationals' outline for Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg will make his final minor league start Thursday in Buffalo, his goodbye to the minors before making his scheduled major league debut June 8 at Nationals Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nationals, according to a team source, have also laid out a tentative outline for the rest of Strasburg's season.
The schedule -- which is tentative because of injuries, weather issues, etc. -- calls for the Nationals to pitch Strasburg every fifth day early in his big league tenure and then to give Strasburg more rest between starts late in the season.
Since Strasburg has been held back somewhat in the minor leagues, throwing no more than six innings per start and usually less, the Nationals plan to lean on Strasburg upon his arrival to provide a respite for their rotation. That doesn't mean Strasburg will be throwing irresponsible pitch counts or starting on short rest. But, for example, when an off day stretches the rotation's rest, Strasburg could pitch on his fifth day to allow a starter like Livan Hernandez, whom the Nationals have relied on for a high innings total, an extra day of rest.
That plan will also help Strasburg pitch at home more often and augment attendance. An example: If Strasburg pitches every fifth day to start his major league career, he'll pitch June 8, 13, 18 and 23. A Nationals off day on June 14 would typically push his start on the 18th to the 19th. But the Nationals conclude a homestand the 23rd -- so pitching him the 18th would allow him to start twice on normal rest during that homestand.
Again, any pitching rotation can be fickle, which makes buying tickets based on projection a risky prospect.
After the opening of Strasburg's big league tenure provides a breather for the Nationals' rotation, the Nationals will scale back, providing him an extra day of rest, to allow him to spend more time with the team.
Barring injury, the Nationals plan for Strasburg to pitch between 150 and 160 innings this season in the majors and minors combined. The Nationals considered -- but for all intents and purposes discarded -- the notion of pitching Strasburg out of the bullpen if they are contending late in the season, as the Tampa Bay Rays used rookie and former first overall choice David Price in 2008.
Using Strasburg out of the bullpen would allow him to make an impact deeper into the Nationals' season. At about 140 innings, he could move to the bullpen and appear in 10 games or so as something of a secret weapon. But the Nationals are certain they won't use that option for two reasons.
First, the team figures two final starts at the end of Strasburg's innings limit, when he would impact for a game for six or seven innings, would be more valuable than hoping he can make an impact late in several games for an inning or two.
Second, the Nationals have to consider the ramifications of Strasburg getting hurt coming out of the bullpen. Even if they believe it would not risk harming him -- which, as Price showed, it probably would not -- they know they would likely be roundly criticized for any injury Strasburg incurs pitching as a reliever. It is a virtual certainly all of Strasburg's innings this year will come as a starter.
The Nationals, of course, could decide to make changes to their general outline, but that's their basic plan for now. As for Tuesday, Versus will televise Strasburg's final minor league start, for Class AAA Syracuse against Buffalo, live at 1 p.m. MASN will televise it on tape delay at 7 p.m.
Posted by: luccitrade | June 2, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: BinM | June 2, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: itkonlyyou97s | June 2, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fischy | June 3, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 3, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ericp331 | June 3, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: goedefrence | June 3, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: thurminator | June 3, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: poeticfire | June 3, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Brue | June 3, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: jwing14 | June 4, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: p_chuck | June 5, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.