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Stephen Strasburg completes rehab start with P-Nats; next stop Nationals’ rotation?

Stephen Strasburg told reporters in Pfitzner Stadium that he was ready to return before his rehab start for the Potomac Nationals, but hoped his latest outing was enough to get him back to the majors.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Rizzo explained to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week that after a sim game on Friday, Stephen Strasburg would take the next step and make a rehab start, if all went well, and potentially return to the Washington Nationals’ rotation after that.

Strasburg landed on the 10-Day Disabled List on July 24th with what was diagnosed as a right elbow nerve impingement, after he left a start against Arizona’s Diamondbacks after two innings on the 23rd.

“He’s throwing the ball free and easy, and there’s no pain,” Rizzo said last Wednesday, before Friday’s sim start in Nationals Park, “... and now it’s just ramping him back up to get some pitches under his belt.”

“He’s able to pitch in games, we’re just being cautious with him. He’s had the Tommy John, he’s had an elbow scope in the past, so we’re maintaining it.”

Strasburg came through the simulated outing fine, as he expected he would.

“I wasn’t really apprehensive about it,” Strasburg said. “It’s felt much better the last couple days.”

“It felt good in the last bullpen, so it’s just getting better and better every day.”

Monday night, with the Nationals off, Strasburg made a start for the High-A Potomac Nationals, giving up three hits, a walk, and one earned run, while striking out five in a 66-pitch outing.

Strasburg told reporters after the start that he thought he was ready to return to the Nationals’ rotation.

“I feel like I was ready to come back before this but they wanted to be conservative so hopefully this is enough,” he said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

In 20 starts before the injury, the 29-year-old right-hander was (10-3) with a 3.25 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 37 walks (2.74 BB/9), 141 (10.43 K/9), and a .215/.282/.357 line against in 121 23 innings pitched.

Rizzo said this weekend that the Nationals felt like they dodged a bullet with Bryce Harper’s injury, which looked bad, but ended up being a bone bruise to his left knee.

With Strasburg’s injury history, losing him for a few weeks in July/August but having him back for the stretch run, and hopefully the postseason, would be another dodge for the current NL East division leaders.