We can safely say that Stephen Strasburg is ready to make his return to the big leagues. Strasburg made his final minor league rehab start in Harrisburg, PA last night. The phenom took the hill for the Harrisburg Senators and looked pretty good, facing one above the minimum over six innings. He surrendered but one hit and struck out four which, if we`re being honest, is kinda disappointing.
In six starts across four minor league levels, Strasburg’s numbers are positively Strasburgian! 20.1 innings pitched, 29 strikeouts against only 3 walks, 14 hits allowed (1 home run), 9 runs surrendered and two hit batters.
Can we make much of these numbers? Of course not! Facing single and double hitters tell us nothing about the relative quality of Strasburg’s stuff. More to the point, we already know how great his stuff is. Even if everything is only 80% of what it was, he still ranks as an elite Major League pitcher. Reports from last night’s start indicate his fastball touched 99 mph early in his start before tailing off as the game progressed.
The Nats are due a lot of credit for bringing Strasburg along slowly, giving him ample opportunity to gets minor league reps and giving him the chance to continue sharpening his entire approach through September. The inevitable addition of butts to seats is an ancillary benefit nobody minds but, as previously discussed on Getting Blanked, isn’t the main driver of the three September starts Strasburg figures to make. Getting the most important piece of the franchise to game ready and focussed on next season is all the matters.