Stephen Strasburg didn't think he needed to go on a rehab start, so he made quick work of his brief trip to the minors.
The Washington Nationals right-hander struck out five and allowed three hits and one walk in a rehab appearance for Class A Potomac Monday night. Facing the Salem Red Sox, Strasburg showcased good command of his fastball and good movement on his curveball as he allowed one earned run.
Strasburg threw 64 pitches, plus a few more in the bullpen to get up to the 75 the team had prescribed. Afterward, the 29-year-old sounded like he was eager to get back into major league action.
“I feel like I was ready to come back before this, but they wanted to be conservative, so hopefully this is enough,” Strasburg said.
With a big lead in the NL East and the playoffs in mind, the Nationals have the ability to be conservative with Strasburg and several other injured players. They placed MVP candidate Bryce Harper on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with what general manager Mike Rizzo called a “significant” bone bruise in his left knee.
“We have a pretty sufficient lead in August,” Harper said. “Of course that doesn't mean anything until you get there. But it does help out the fact that I can sit out a little bit and let it heal and let it rest and get to where I need to be.”
Strasburg has been on the disabled list with a nerve impingement in his right elbow since July 27. He left two innings into his last start July 23 at Arizona and has been working to get back since.
He said he felt good during a simulated game at Nationals Park last week and came out of the rehab start with the same feelings.
“I felt good,” Strasburg said. “No issues. Felt strong throughout.”
Strasburg said his plan was, “Go through my pitches, try and hit my spots.” A double was the only ball hit hard off the starter who signed a $175 million, seven-year contract last year.
Last season the Nationals didn't have Strasburg in the playoffs because of injury and hope that's different this time around. In 2017 he's 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 20 games.
If Strasburg cites no further issues coming out of his minor league start, he could be in line to pitch this weekend in his hometown of San Diego against the Padres.