Stephen Strasburg’s highly anticipated return to the major leagues from Tommy John surgery will be pushed back to Wednesday afternoon in the likely event tonight’s game is rained out. Even if the Nationals and Dodgers do start tonight’s game, Manager Davey Johnson may scratch Strasburg in order to protect him from pitching in inclement conditions.
If tonight’s game is postponed, the Nationals and Dodgers will play a split doubleheader tomorrow, with games at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Strasburg would start the game at 1 p.m.
If the rains holds enough for the Nationals to play, Johnson may decide not to pitch Strasburg and instead wait until tomorrow night’s game. Johnson does not want Strasburg’s first start back interrupted by a rain delay, and he does not want him pitching in uncomfortable conditions.
Strasburg getting scratched would surely upset the thousands of fans who bought tickets to see Strasburg return. But Johnson’s priority is to protect Strasburg.
“I did have a conversation with [General Manager] Mike Rizzo,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to have a partial rehab his first time back.’ I really don’t want it to be rainy, wet mound, wet balls, him out there throwing. I don’t care if it’s sold out or whatever. I’m always concerned about the future of the player and what’s best for the player. Because what’s best for the player is what’s best for the team.”
Fans with tickets for tonight’s game, presumably, would be able to attend Wednesday’s first game if it is rescheduled. Fans would have to rearrange their schedules. “I suggest they all take off work,” Johnson said jokingly.
Johnson, in order to help prevent Strasburg pitching for only one inning, asked Rizzo to not start the game under a drizzle. “I wouldn’t want to have him go one inning, because I’d have to wait until his next time came around,” Johnson said. “I would rather postpone it a day and know that he could get his full work in.”
The forecast makes for a grim chance that the Nationals do play tonight.
“The only news I have is that the groundskeeper said there isn’t going to be much of a window,” Johnson said. “That’s from three weather services. That’s about all I know. I’m sure they’ll try to get it in.”
If the Nationals do play tonight and Strasburg is scratched, September call-up Brad Peacock would start the game. If somehow Strasburg is able to pitch his allotted four innings and/or 60 pitches, Peacock would relieve him.