In an MLB Network Radio interview on Wednesday morning, Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams talked about the plan for Stephen Strasburg in his first rehab start since going on the DL with an oblique strain.
Strasburg started for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs on Wednesday night.
"Today he's four innings and 65-70 pitches," Williams said.
"We'll see where he's at after that and make a decision on whether he feels like he can get into a major league game or whether he needs another one.
"So, 65 pitches is not a lot. We'd like to get him to 85 or 90 before we make a decision getting him back to the big leagues, but we'll see where he's at. Hopefully everything goes well today. The simulated game we had was good and get him out there today in Syracuse and let him go and get him through four innings and see how he feels."
Here's our not-a-scout-ing report:
First: Strasburg threw a 94 mph fastball to Dalton Pomey for his first pitch, a strike, 0-1, and the second fastball he threw was lined to center field where Chiefs' outfielder Darin Mastroianni made a diving catch. Nats' top shortstop prospect Trea Turner threw out Andy Burns on a grounder to short on Strasburg's third pitch of the game, and the right-hander got up 1-2 with a 12-to-6, 1-1 curve to Ty Kelly, threw a change in the dirt outside at 88 mph. and came back with the offspeed pitch to get a swinging K from a Buffalo Bison who was clearly looking fastball. Eight-pitch first.
Second: On the mound in the second, Strasburg started behind 3-0 to the first batter he faced, Matt Hague, and gave up a single to center on a 3-1 fastball. Melky Mesa lined a first-pitch curve to center for a second straight single.
Caleb Gindl went down swinging at an 0-2 change in the dirt for out no.1.
Fastball up high at 96 to Sean Ochinko, and Strasburg threw a 1-0 fastball for a strike, got up 1-2 with a knee-high heater that was called a strike and got a swinging strike three with a fastball up high inside. Two down.
Munenori Kawasaki stepped in next and fouled off a fastball, 0-1, and fouled off another, 0-2. Strasburg missed with a backdoor curve, and Kawasaki fouled off a 1-2 fastball before Strasburg threw a high 96 fastball that hit off Chiefs' catcher Steven Lerud's glove and went to the backstop. Second and third. Kawasaki fouled off a fastball, still 2-2, and Strasburg bounced a curve in the dirt, 3-2, and missed with a low fastball. Walk.
A bases loaded balk, forced in the first run he allowed. Strasburg started wind-up, Lerud started to stand and came out of his crouch as Strasburg did. Misscommunication. 1-0.
Jonathan Diaz singled to right, throwing his bat at a nasty two-strike outside from Strasburg. Dalton Pompei took a 1-2 curve for a called third strike and out no.3. 3-0 Bisons after two.
Third: Andy Burns fouled off a fastball, Strasburg threw 95 mph heater for a called strike, 0-2. Burns took a fastball up high, but lined out to a diving Matt Skole at first base on the next pitch.
Strasburg got up on Ty Kelly with a filthy 1-1 curve, and got a weak groundout to second on a 1-2 heater.
Matt Hague took two fastballs outside, 2-0, missed a 95 mph fastball, 2-1. 95 again for a swinging strike, 2-2. Hague fouled off another mid-90's heater, and lined a 2-2 fastball to center for a hit.
Melky Mesa fouled off a fastball, missed a curve, 0-2, and went down swinging at another bender. K no.5 in 3 IP.
Fourth: Strasburg came back out for the fourth at 53 pitches and got hit with a hard-hit grounder back to the mound that he lost in his feet on the first pitch he threw. No damage.
Ochinko started up 3-0. 94 mph fastball for a strike, fouled off a fastball, 3-2, and grounded out to Turner at short.
Kawasaki was swinging fastball at a curve, 0-1, he took a low curve, 1-1, and a fastball inside, 2-1, but grounded out to short, Taylor threw a strike to Skole. Nice arm, kid.
• Stephen Strasburg's Line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 64 P, 44 S, 5/0 GO/FO.
Notes: Fastball location was good. Got hitters to chase curves out of the zone. Hitters swinging early and often, trying to jump on fastballs, had no chance against changeup or curve. Five groundouts, five Ks from 17 batters faced.
Verdict: No reason he couldn't pitch in the majors the way he looked, pitch count concerns the only thing that might lead to another rehab start. If he's going to throw 80-85 next time out, why waste them in Syracuse?
Chiefs' skipper Billy Gardner, Jr. told reporters, including Syracuse.com's Lindsay Kramer, that he could see the Nats' right-hander making one more rehab start:
"It's a day-to-day type thing,'' Gardner said. "I would think he'd make one more start here to get built up a little bit more. I think right now he's going to make one more start as it stands, but obviously that could change. But I don't see it changing.'"
Strasburg said he was ready to return, though he explained that he understood the process:
"I feel good, I feel ready to compete,'' Strasburg said. "But there's always kind of this system that's in place that they want you to follow. So I'm going to let them make the decisions and I'm just going to keep working and keep trying to get better.'"
The right-hander suffered an oblique strain during a July 4th start, which led to his second DL stint of the season. No word from the Nationals on the plans going forward.
Williams said Strasburg came out of rehab outing fine, will pitch another one. If that goes well, his next turn could be in the majors.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 30, 2015