“I think we’re getting close,” Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this past Wednesday, two days before Stephen Strasburg made his third rehab start as he works his way back from last summer’s season-ending surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
“Without any setbacks, I think we’re getting closer, definitely,” Rizzo added.
“Now it’s a point of extending his pitches out to six innings or 100 or so pitches, and when he gets to that, and he feels good about that, then we’ll see, if there are no setbacks.”
On Friday night in Rochester, New York, Strasburg tossed six scoreless in which he gave up a hit and a walk, while striking out four in an 83-pitch, 50-strike outing for the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate.
“He did well,” manager Davey Martinez said, after the big league club snapped a four-game losing streak with an 8-5 win over the Reds in Cincinnati.
Wings best Bisons Friday to increase division lead to 2 1/2 games!@FirestoneAuto | Game Recap— Rochester Red Wings (@RocRedWings) June 4, 2022
“Six innings, 83 pitches, one hit, four strikeouts, so he threw the ball well. We’re going to try to get him back here tomorrow, reevaluate. Like I said, he’s got a routine he does, we’ll throw his bullpen, and then we’ll see where he’s at. I’m going to have a conversation with him when he comes back, and we’ll see, but that’s great news for us, that he’s reached the pinnacle where he’s up at six innings, 83 pitches, so we’ll see what happens next.”
While Strasburg apparently declined to speak to reporters in upstate NY after the start, Red Wings’ manager Matt LeCroy broke down the outing.
“I thought Strasberg threw the ball well, had a really, really good mix,” LeCroy said, as quoted by Democrat & Chronicle writer Sal Maiorana.
“Both sides of the plate he had the sinker going, had the four-seamer away going, good breaking ball, and the change came alive at the end there. That’s a good sign for our organization that he’s headed in the right direction.”
LeCroy said Strasburg, more than overpowering hitters, threw his fastball 90-92 MPH while focusing on command.
“He’s more concerned about the command right now which is natural for him to feel that way and it was there tonight,” LeCroy explained.
“He was able to throw breaking balls when he was behind for strikes, located the fastball to both sides so he’s in a good spot right now.”
Good enough for his next start to be in the majors? Strasburg was on his way to Ohio when Martinez spoke with reporters in advance of the third of four in Great American Ball Park.
“He’s on his way,” the Nats’ skipper said. “He worked out this morning in Rochester. We’ll get him back here, like I said, he’ll come back here, go through his daily routine, he’ll throw a bullpen, and then we’ll assess where he’s at. I’m going to talk to him. He won’t get here till probably almost game time. So I’ll probably talk to him either after the game or tomorrow. But we’ll see where he’s at. But the biggest thing now is his next bullpen and see how he feels.”
@Nationals' Stephen Strasburg's rehab start for @RocRedWings:— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 4, 2022
83 pitches; 50 strikes
7 groundouts; 4 flyouts pic.twitter.com/AxZZnphJK8
The reports he got on Strasburg’s third start on his rehab stint were all positive.
“He said he felt good, like I said,” Martinez reiterated.
“He had a great outing yesterday, so that’s great. But, like I said, we’re almost at the finish line. We want to make sure that everything’s well. And then we’ll make a decision about what we’re gonna do next.”
Since he reached the threshold the club wanted him to in this outing, is it safe to assume he’ll make his next start with the Nationals?
“We’ll get him here, we’ll talk to him, [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey and I are going to sit down with him and see where he’s at mentally, and physically, and then we’ll go from there.”