Davey Johnson had just about wrapped up his post game press conference following Wednesday's loss to the Atlanta Braves when a reporter asked if Stephen Strasburg was good-to-go for the the series opener with the Miami Marlins on Thursday night? Strasburg, 25, had been scratched from the previous Friday night's start with tightness/irritation in his forearm, but until that point he'd been expected to return to the mound in Nationals Park.
"I scratched him for tomorrow," Johnson responded. "He just had a little bit of -- he felt a little something there, but he wanted to pitch tomorrow. And I said, 'Well. No way. I've got guys on full rest, and I'll pitch them and you'll line up for Saturday.' So it was my decision. But he didn't get loose when he was throwing. He felt it was hard to get loose and so when I heard that, I told him, 'Pitch Saturday.'"
Strasburg wasn't happy with the decision. Davey Johnson said he was the one who made the decision in spite of the pitcher and pitching coach Steve McCatty thinking that the right-hander could pitch.
"He tried to talk me out of it," Johnson explained, "and I said, 'No. Play catch a couple more days and I don't want to take any more chances with you.'" Before the throwing session that led to the decision to scratch Strasburg, the '09 no.1 overall pick hadn't experienced any discomfort. Doctors checked him out. "They came and they tested him and everything and he was fine," Johnson said. "Wanted to go. But in my book, I don't want to have anything bothering you the day before you pitch."
Strasburg admitted when he spoke to reporters that he understood the decision. "I think it would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it," he explained. He wasn't too concerned though. "I wouldn't say I'm too concerned, because when I get nice and loose it feels 100%. The tough thing is getting loose."
Getting loose wasn't an issue when Strasburg went through his usual preparation on the day before a start on Friday. Davey Johnson told reporters including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore that he was "90%" sure that Strasburg would be able to make start tonight in the nation's capital. Barring any issues with weather, which might be a problem as usual when Strasburg's scheduled to throw, the Nationals' right-hander will make his 29th start of the 2013 campaign.
Through 28 starts, Strasburg has a 2.96 ERA with 15 HRs (0.79 HR/9) and 52 walks (2.75 BB/9) allowed in 170 IP in which he's struck out 181 batters (9.58 K/9).
At home in Nationals Park this season, Strasburg has a 1.55 ERA in 93 1/3 IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .187/.239/.255 line while walking 16 (1.55 BB/9), striking out 102 (9.87 K/9) and giving up five home runs (0.48 HR/9) on the year. Strasburg's last start at home in D.C. was cut short by rain after two innings against the Marlins. There's a threat of rain again tonight...
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