Stephen Strasburg, who will make his 13th start of the season this afternoon in Toronto, has by any measure been an all-star though the first third of the season. He is 7-1, ranks sixth in the National League with a 2.41 ERA and first with 92 strikeouts. Whether he belongs is simple. Whether he will pitch is a dilemma.
The Nationals will limit Strasburg’s innings this season to an undetermined number, likely somewhere close to 165. An inning he throws in the All-Star Game could be an inning he does not throw in September.
Still, if Strasburg is chosen when teams are announced July 1 and his schedule aligns properly, the Nationals will let Strasburg pitch in the Midsummer Classic. The Nationals will neither deprive Strasburg of the chance to pitch in baseball’s showcase nor deprive the sport of the chance to showcase him.
“If he’s on schedule to pitch in the game, I’d feel honored if he represented the Nationals in the All-Star Game,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “It would be an honor for the Washington Nationals. We’re not going to let him pitch on short rest or anything like that. But if the schedule works, I’d be happy to.”
While the innings limit has hovered over the season, Strasburg has displayed few weaknesses in his full year back from Tommy John surgery. He struggled with uncharacteristic command issues for three starts in May, but he put to rest any doubts with his previous two starts. He shut out the Braves for seven innings, and then he struck out 13 Red Sox at Fenway Park, inducing a career-high 20 swing-and-misses.
Strasburg threw 119 pitches in his last start, surpassing his previous career high by 11. But Manager Davey Johnson says he will place no extra restrictions on Strasburg today.
“I don’t consider 119 pitches a heavy workload,” Johnson said. “That generally is the number I don’t like to go too far over. Nowadays, we think that 100 is more like it. I’ve always taken pitch counts — I used to have the bullpen coach count how many pitches he threw in the bullpen. I think that’s important. I’ve found that 115, 120 is not a heavy workload. But depending on how things fall, if he’s laboring or whatever, I might hold to a lower pitch count. . . . I’m not worried about him physically.”
FROM THE POST
Bryce Harper’s bomb and an encouraging performance by Danny Espinosa sparked the Nationals’ 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays, a game that put them on a 100-win pace.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Syracuse was postponed.
Harrisburg was postponed.
Potomac was suspended.
Hagerstown 4, Hickory 0: Alex Meyer allowed no runs in six innings on two hits and a walk, striking out five. Brian Goodwin went 2 for 3. Jason Martinson went 0 for 1 with two walks and a steal.