In spite of the calf issue which led to his abrupt exit from his last start, Stephen Strasburg is set to throw today, after testing the calf in a bullpen session. But the 2019 World Series MVP won’t be throwing in tonight’s Grapefruit League game against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach, FL.
“Tomorrow was supposed to be Strasburg,” manager Davey Martinez said yesterday.
“[Paolo] Espino is going to start though, because we’re going to have Strasburg throw in the back.”
Strasburg is going to go in a sim game with his teammates, while Espino goes against the Astros.
Though he won’t face another team, Strasburg will be throwing again on schedule, five days after his last appearance, so the hope is that barring any issues today, he will still be ready to go at the start of the regular season.
“He threw a bullpen the other day and felt good, he had no issues,” Martinez explained.
“And he threw the ball well. So, instead of getting him out facing another team, this way if something were to come up, we could stop, we could let him take a longer rest, do whatever we need, but build up his pitches, which would be nice. So, but he feels good, and that’s a good thing, that he had no issues, didn’t feel anything, so going forward, we’re going to try to get him probably 4-5 ups tomorrow, in a controlled environment, but push him.
“We want to see him pitch and not kind of go through — where we’re going to stop unless we need to, but get him through innings like he normally would.”
And if all goes well today, and over the next two weeks, Strasburg will be built up as needed for the start of the season?
“We’ll see,” Martinez said. “A lot is going to determine how he comes out of this tomorrow, and how he feels. Obviously if something tightens up on him we’ll shut him down right away. But like I said, hopefully that won’t happen and he can get up to about 50-55 pitches.”
Meanwhile, Espino, 34, gets to start against the Astros tonight. Espino pitched in the major leagues for the Nationals in 2020, returning to the big leagues for the first time since 2017.
In three appearance this spring, Espino has tossed 3 2⁄3 scoreless, giving up just one hit and holding opposing hitters to a .100 AVG.