Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make a rehab start in the minors this weekend. Time to rejoice! Or shake your fist at the irresponsibility of the organization. Whichever suits you.
I firmly land on the side of this being a good idea. I think if there was any reason, medically, to keep him from pitching, the Nats wouldn’t be pitching him. And if there isn’t any reason, then he should be pitching. Keep in mind, despite some gaudy numbers (2.91 ERA, 12.2 K/9, 5.41 K/BB) he still wasn’t perfect last year. He gave up a few runs, not many, but a few. He pitched for a team that doesn’t always score enough. He, in other words, needs to learn how to pitch even better. This isn’t to say he won’t be great, but even the best pitchers get into jams, feel pressure, and need to overcome hiccups. Pitching in the majors this year helps him get practice in those situations.
Again, I am assuming the doctors have looked at him and decided that no more damage can be done by pitching now as opposed to months down the road. If this is the case, it is better for the Nats to get him going and allow him to pitch in real major league games. I’m not the only one who thinks this. I tried asking Keith Law in his chat today about it, although Alan from Boston beat me to it, asking, “What are your thoughts on the Nationals bringing Strasburg back to pitch this year with only a few months remaining.” KLaw responded:
I’m fine with it if the doctors are. Doesn’t hurt him to get some innings in, building up some durability and getting used to being back on a mound. And they’ll make some cash when he starts in September.
This about sums it up for me, except I don’t care too much about the cash. It helps him to pitch longer next year and pitch better. It’s that simple. Anything else is just background noise. And if you’re one of those people who really think that the only reason they’re doing this is some secret conspiracy for revenue at the expense of the guy who could be one of the top 5 pitchers in the league for the team for the next several years, well, there’s probably no talking you down. That’d be like trying to convince you the moon landing was real, something I’m sure you’re skeptical of as well.