For the second time in six days, the Nationals have scratched Stephen Strasburg from his scheduled start, concerned enough about lingering forearm tightness to allow him to take the mound.
Scheduled to pitch Thursday night against the Marlins, six days after he previously was held out of a start against the Phillies, Strasburg again was scratched after having trouble getting loose before playing catch on Wednesday.
“It’s just not worth the risks,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He wanted to go tomorrow, I said no.”
Gio Gonzalez will now start the series opener against Miami, one day earlier than originally planned but still on normal rest. Jordan Zimmermann will be bumped up to Friday night’s start, also still on normal rest. The Nationals then hope Strasburg will be ready to pitch Saturday night.
Johnson said it was his call to scratch Strasburg, though the right-hander didn’t appear to put up much of a fight when his manager informed him.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I think it works better for the club,” Strasburg said.”Instead of going out there and potentially have it happen to me during a game, give it a couple extra days, let Gio and Jordan go ahead, get it done and get out there on Saturday.”
Strasburg noted that his arm felt better after he did some exercises to loosen the area up. He proceeded to play catch Wednesday afternoon with no issues, which leaves him confident he’ll be able to take the mound again this weekend.
“I wouldn’t say I’m too concerned, because when I get nice and loose it feels 100 percent,” he said. “The tough thing is getting loose. … I did all the tests. [Team medical director] Wiemi [Douoguih] looked it over, and everything is structurally sound. I think it’s just part of it being September, and that’s pretty much it.”
Strasburg has thrown a career-high 170 innings in his first uninterrupted, professional season. In 28 starts, he is 7-9 with a 2.96 ERA.
The Nationals, who sat 5 games back in the NL Wild Card race with only 10 to go following Wednesday night’s loss to the Braves, could have attempted to pitch Strasburg as planned but Johnson elected not to take that risk.
“He came in, they tested him, everything was fine,” the manager said. “He wanted to go. But in my book, I don’t want to have anything bothering you the day before you pitch.”