Last we heard from Davey Martinez, before Thursday afternoon’s 5-1 win in the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies in Washington, D.C., Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg was set to throw a bullpen, after throwing four “innings” and 62 pitches in a sim game Tuesday in Nationals Park.
“He’s going to go throw a bullpen and then we’ll decide after the game what we’re going to do with him,” Martinez told reporters.
The fourth-year skipper said Strasburg needed to get at least one more outing in before the club considered bringing him off the 10-Day IL he landed on back on April 18th, (retroactive to 4/15), with right shoulder inflammation. The question was whether it would be in another sim game, or a minor league rehab start.
“We won’t activate him until he gets through another round, whether he’s going to go to the minor leagues or a sim game, and then we’ll go from there,” Martinez explained before their five-hour flight to Arizona.
Before last night’s game, the manager announced that they’d made a decision.
“He’s going to Rochester, he’s going to pitch Sunday,” Martinez said, though, technically, he will be going to Trenton, NJ, where the Red Wings, the Nationals’ new Triple-A affiliate, are set to take on the Buffalo Bisons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ affiliate, who are playing their early-season games in Trenton so their park can be prepared for the Jays to play in Buffalo.
How did the Nationals make the decision?
“He had a very good bullpen,” Martinez said. “He felt good. So, the next step will be to get him down there and get him hopefully five innings, maybe 75-80 pitches.”
Strasburg seems to have taken big steps in the last week, and Martinez said he’s happy with the progress he’s seen from the 32-year-old righty, who missed most of last season after he dealt with carpal tunnel neuritis which eventually required surgery.
“So far it’s been good. And like I said, it’s a progression, so he’s progressing really well,” the manager added.
“Hopefully he comes out of this outing feeling good. We’ll wait to see how he feels after he throws, the next day or two, and then we’ll go from there.”
Is this the final step, assuming all goes well, before a return to the Nationals’ rotation?
“That’s tough to say right now,” Martinez said. “We’ll evaluate him after he’s done with this next outing.”