Stephen Strasburg will be back on the mound Wednesday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Nationals’ playoff hopes may ultimately hinge on how they perform in a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies this week, and they’ll welcome a significant reinforcement just in time. Stephen Strasburg will come off the disabled list to pitch Wednesday against the Phillies, Manager Dave Martinez announced Sunday morning.

Strasburg will pitch between Tanner Roark on Tuesday and Max Scherzer on Thursday, giving the Nationals their top three pitchers against one of the two clubs they’re chasing in the National League East.

“Credit to Stras that he got himself ready to pitch for us and have that opportunity to go up against a team we’re trying to catch,” Martinez said. “He’s been working diligently and he feels good, so it’s nice in that series to have our three best pitchers.”

Strasburg, 30, has made one start in the past nine weeks. He hasn’t pitched since July 20, when he made a start after six weeks on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He was placed on the DL again five days later with a cervical nerve impingement in his neck that had surfaced in spring training. He tried pitching through it but decided to address the issue after allowing six runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves. He got an injection July 27 and resumed throwing four days later.

He’s thrown several bullpens in recent weeks and a tossed a 70-pitch simulated game in St. Louis last week.  Strasburg will eschew a rehab start, but the Nationals don’t have the luxury to wait. They entered seven games behind the first-place Braves and 6 1/2 behind the Phillies. The six head-to-head matchups with the Phillies over the next two weeks are pivotal. They need the $175 million arm to pitch big games.

Martinez said Strasburg, who’s posted a 3.90 ERA in 14 outings, won’t have an atypical pitch limit.

“We’ll see how the game goes,” Martinez said. “See where he’s at in high-leverage situations and stuff like that. If he’s up there in pitches, we got to be careful. But he feels good and he says he’s ready.”


Sean Doolittle threw a bullpen Saturday and reported feeling “okay” after the session. The all-star closer is dealing with a left foot injury that inhibits him from driving off his leg as forcefully as he’d like. Doolittle said throwing from flat ground has improved drastically in recent weeks, but the improvement hasn’t transferred to throwing off mound. He initially attempted to alter his mechanics to reduce the stress on his foot, but decided the reward wasn’t worth the risk and ditched the effort after a few days.

Meanwhile, Martinez reiterated that he hopes Kelvin Herrera will return this week against the Phillies. Herrera would likely slide into the closer role. He’d bolster a depleted bullpen that has blown three games in the past week.

MARLINS (49-76)
Rafael Ortega RF
J.T. Realmuto 1B
Brian Anderson 3B
Starlin Castro 2B
Austin Dean LF
JT Riddle SS
Isaac Galloway CF
Bryan Holaday C
Jose Urena P

Adam Eaton RF
Trea Turner SS
Bryce Harper CF
Anthony Rendon 3B
Juan Soto LF
Daniel Murphy 2B
Matt Adams 1B
Matt Wieters C
Gio Gonzalez P