Evan Vucci / AP

Stephen Strasburg had no issues playing catch on Thursday, the day he was originally supposed to start but was scratched because of lingering discomfort in his right forearm. Strasburg referred to what he felt in his forearm when he struggled to get loose before playing catch on Wednesday as a “strong cramp.” The Nationals believe the issue is minor and Strasburg is on track to make his next start on Saturday, although the team will still have to make that decision. 

“I’ve been told by the doctors to not be concerned so I’m not concerned,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. Pitching coach Steve McCatty said Strasburg’s throwing went well on Thursday.

Strasburg was also scratched from his last start last Friday because of right forearm tightness he felt the day before when he tried playing catch and toyed with new grips on a pitch. Strasburg will be pushed back to Saturday and Gio Gonzalez is starting Thursday on regular rest.

If Gonzalez wasn’t pitching on regular rest, Johnson said he could have started Strasburg on Thursday anyway. Strasburg was cleared by the team doctor to pitch and McCatty felt that the right-hander could have started. But Johnson was exercising caution.

“He wanted to pitch [Thursday],” Johnson said. “I just wanted to make that clear. He wanted to pitch. It’s my judgment. There’s no need. I don’t want a guy that has a little discomfort that day before he pitches. All these games are important but again his well-being is more important than him starting. So I give him two days more.”

As the rotation stacks up now, each starter has two remaining starts. But with an offday next Thursday, and the potential for a last-ditch playoff push, Johnson could skip Tanner Roark’s final start and bring back Gonzalez back on regular rest to pitch the season finale on Sept. 29.