Strasburg’s Next Step:
Six innings and 100-ish pitches was one goal the Washington Nationals said they wanted to see Stephen Strasburg reach as he builds up towards his return to the big league rotation in the coming weeks, barring any setbacks, and he went six on 83 pitches, with one walk, four Ks, and one hit allowed in his latest rehab start.
Following the outing with the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester, NY, the 33-year-old right-hander traveled to Ohio to meet up with the team in Cincinnati, where they were playing four with the Reds, and before the finale in Great American Ball Park, Davey Martinez talked to reporters about the next steps for the ‘09 No. overall pick and 2019 World Series MVP.
“He’s had a routine that he does in between starts, so he’s just doing his routine,” Martinez explained.
“He’s gonna throw a bullpen here in the next day, and we’ll see where he’s at and then we’ll have a conversation after the bullpen. But so far, everything looks good. So I don’t want to make any decisions yet until he throws his bullpen and we go from there.”
Martinez wasn’t committing to Strasburg’s next start being in the big leagues, but said the starter will remain with the team as they travel to Miami for the third stop on their road trip.
“He’s going to Miami with us, yeah, he’s staying with us and regardless of what we do next, he’ll travel with the team.”
As for how the rotation will shape up against the Marlins? Do they have a plan yet?
“No,” Martinez said. “I’m gonna sit down and talk to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey after we meet and then try to go over our rotation. So we’ll see. Like I said, we still got Evan [Lee] here. We’re going to try to use him out of the bullpen, but it hasn’t worked out, so he’s available to start as well. Josiah [Gray], I think, will start one of those games. We haven’t decided when. But I’ll know more probably after the game.”
Speaking of Gray:
Before the second of four with the Reds this weekend in GABP, Davey Martinez was asked if he saw similarities between Josiah Gray, a 2018 2nd Round draft pick by Cincinnati out of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, and Tom Browning (a 9th Round pick by the Reds in 1982), or Jim Deshais, two of the more well-known pitchers who attended Le Moyne as well before pitching in the majors, but the fifth-year skipper said Gray’s a different type of pitcher.
“Right now, he’s more of a power pitcher,” Martinez explained. “He uses his fastball a lot. He’s got a great breaking ball, but he attacks with his fastball, so we’re getting him to try to use more of his secondary pitches, and he did a lot better his last outing with that, especially in high-leverage situations, and he’s getting comfortable doing it, so that’s awesome to see. But he likes to attack the strike zone, he really does, and you’ll see him out there today working the first inning just trying to really establish the strike zone and then go from there.”
Alcides Escobar put up a .185/.254/.215 line in the first 19 games and 71 plate appearances of the season in April, but before a hamstring injury forced him to the IL, the 35-year-old’s fortunes were turning, with a more respectable .264/.278/.377 line in 16 games and 54 PAs in May.
Davey Martinez said after the club called Luis García up to play short for the Nationals, they would have to have a conversation when Escobar is ready to return, but for now the 22-year-old shortstop is going to start every day at short. How’s Escobar progressing as he works his way back from the right hamstring issue?
“He’s feeling a lot better. He’s recovering. Those hamstrings, as we all know, when you get a little strain like that, they’re a bit tricky, especially with the position that he plays, so, but he’s recovering well. He’s doing a lot of strengthening right now. He was able to swing the bat a little bit the other day, which is kind of nice. So we’ll see how he feels this week.”