Stephen Strasburg will start first game after all-star break
Stephen Strasburg will start the Nationals' first game after the all-star break at the Florida Marlins and then remain on a typical schedule for the remainder of the season, Manager Jim Riggleman said. The Nationals are beginning their second half with Strasburg -- and following him with Livan Hernandez -- in an effort to to boost a clubhouse clinging to faint hopes of contention.
"These veteran guys, they want to win ballgames," Mananger Jim Riggleman said. "If we don't send out our best early, those first two days, then we're sending the wrong message to our ballclub."
The Nationals originally had planned to stretch out the time between Strasburg's starts in order to let him pitch for the entire season while not exceeding his prescribed 160-inning limit. They changed their approach, though, and will simply pitch him every fifth game.
"When the innings are done, they're done" Riggleman said. "We want to win. Our players want to win. I think we need to send a message that we're going to finish up strong this weekend as best we can and open up as strong as we can after the break."
Strasburg has thrown 92 innings total between the minors and majors and has 68 left, likely meaning he will make 10 or 11 more starts. Strasburg has averaged slightly more than six innings in the majors -- 36 2/3 innings in six starts -- and would make 10 more appearances if he continues at that rate.
The Nationals are planning to pitch Strasburg on a normal rotation -- every fifth day, unless an off day pushes his rest to a sixth day. Here's what his schedule would look like under that schedule:
16 at Florida
21 at Cincinnati
27 vs Atlanta
1 vs Philadelphia
6 at Los Angeles
12 vs Florida
18 at Atlanta
23 vs Chicago
28 vs St. Louis
3 at Pittsburgh
Now, as we've all learned, pitching rotations can always change due to weather and/or injury, so this schedule should not be viewed as a hammerlock guide as to when to buy tickets. This is just what would happen if everything goes exactly to plan and nothing intercedes to alter that plan. It would provide a nice symmetry if Strasbrug finishes his season with the Pirates, the team he debuted against on June 8.
Strasburg had no input in his second-half schedule -- "about as much as Kilgore," is seriously how Riggleman explained it -- and had little reaction when told.
"He's just ready to go," Riggleman said. "He just wants to pitch. He's the perfect young man to be up here. No matter what happens, he's working hard. He's prepared. If we told him he wasn't going to pitch for three weeks, he would be very upset about it but respectfully not say anything."
After Strasburg finishes his season, he will remain with the Nationals and travel with them. He will still work with pitching coach Steve McCatty. During games, the Nationals want him to learn opposing batters and "accumulate information" on the rest of the league, Riggleman said.
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