"We are going to look at it tomorrow," Williams said. "We'll have a work day here and we'll have something tomorrow if not on Tuesday morning."
Monday and Tuesday morning came and went and then it was Tuesday afternoon and still there was no official word on which pitcher would take the mound for the series opener with the Atlanta Braves in the nation's capital.
The expectation was that 26-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the 15-Day DL on May 30th with "neck tightness" would be reinstated in time to take on the Nats' NL East rivals in the first game of a three-game set after he got through a rehab start with Double-A Harrisburg last Wednesday and subsequent throwing and bullpen sessions with no issues.
The last word on the subject before this afternoon came from the Nats' skipper, who told reporters on Saturday that the bullpen went well and a decision would be forthcoming.
"If he comes out of this bullpen fine, he was at 80 pitches in his last rehab start," Williams said, "there's no reason he couldn't go to 95 and get in a big league game and do that. So we'll have to see about his health though. I have to make sure that coming out of this -- throwing bullpens is one thing, the start that he had was an indication that he feels okay, and this last bullpen will give us further indication that he's good coming out of that and ready for a next one, there's no reason that he wouldn't be in our rotation if he feels good."
Strasburg was (3-5) in ten starts before he went on the DL, with a 6.55 ERA, a 3.96 FIP, 14 walks (2.78 BB/9), 45 Ks (8.93 K/9) and a .320/.377/.497 in 45 ⅓ innings pitched.
The Nationals made the announcement that Strasburg was officially reinstated just moments ago:
In order to make room on the roster for Strasburg's return, the Nationals optioned 22-year-old right-hander Joe Ross to Double-A Harrisburg after three starts in which the pitcher, acquired along with top infield prospect Trea Turner from the San Diego Padres in this winter's three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays this winter, was (2-1) with a 2.66 ERA, 1.14 FIP, two walks (0.89 BB/9) and 23 Ks (10.18 K/9) in 20 ⅓ IP.
Here's the lineup for the series opener with the Braves: