The Washington Nationals are set to activate starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg for their June 23 game against the Atlanta Braves. Strasburg had been in the disabled list since May 29 due to neck tightness.
The Washington Nationals are activating Stephen Strasburg from the disabled list.
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According to MLB.com's Jamal Collier, the Nationals activated Strasburg in time for the game against the Atlanta Braves on June 23. He had been in the disabled list since May 29 due to neck tightness.
More specifically, the diagnosis on Strasburg was a strained left trapezius muscle, per The Washington Post's Chelsea Janes. He also experienced soreness in his lower back on May 5 before his neck tightened up 24 days later in just one inning of work against the Cincinnati Reds.
When Strasburg sprained his left ankle during Spring Training, he told The Washington Times' Tom Schad it forced him to change his mechanics. Unfortunately, by doing so, he also sustained a sore back.
During the three weeks Strasburg was sidelined, he worked on his mechanics with his pitching coach, Steve McCatty. Nationals manager Matt Williams told Schad he and McCatty pored over three years' worth of film to figure out what adjustments Strasburg needs to make.
Janes stresses Washington optioned 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Joe Ross to its triple-A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, to make room for Strasburg on the roster.
The Nationals called up Ross when both Strasburg and Doug Fister went down with injuries. Ross' 23 strikeouts in three starts prompted Williams to tell The Washington Post "he opened eyes, seriously."
Strasburg's return coupled with Fister's own call-up from the disabled list last week means Washington's starting pitchers are all healthy for the first time since May 15, per Collier.
Now that Strasburg and Fister are both healthy, the Nationals will send Tanner Roark back to the bullpen. In his five starts filling in, he had a 3-0 record with a 3.86 ERA. Williams emphasized Roark can occaionally fill in for closer Drew Storen, per Janes.
Prior to starting against Atlanta, Strasburg needed only one more start with the Nationals' Double-A affiliate, the Harrisburg Senators. He allowed just one earned run on four hits while registering six strikeouts on June 17, per MLB.com.
Storen told Schad how hard Strasbug has been working to get himself back into shape:
"He's been working hard. He's been working to get back to where he needs to be. If he gets through it healthy, that's the No. 1 thing. The results will take care of themselves."
Williams told Collier on Tuesday that it's imperative for Strasburg to be in one of his vaunted comfort zones for him to shake off some rust:
"Tonight it's important that he feels good when he gets out there and that he can let it go, let it fly -- there aren't any restrictions, first and foremost.
"Secondarily, it's important for him to be able to throw it to where he wants to. If he can do that, he's got a real good chance of beating any team. On the other hand, if he doesn't, then he can get hit.
"I think he came up here with the expectation to do well in his own brain, and he did that.
"I told him to be ready. We never know in this game what may happen, so we need to make sure he continues to progress and do what he needs to do in case he gets that call again."
Williams told Janes on Tuesday he expects Strasburg to throw 95 to 100 pitches against the Braves. The Nationals manager also added he wants Strasburg to pitch "with conviction."
On the other hand, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien on June 23 the team knew the Nationals would start Strasburg against them as early as Sunday.
Gonzalez told O'Brien it was no less than the Nationals who tipped him off. "Just to give us a heads-up," he said.
O'Brien says Gonzalez filled out his lineup card knowing Strasburg would start against the Braves on Tuesday. As of press time, the game has been delayed due to inclement weather.
In Strasburg's 10 starts prior to landing on the disabled list, he posted a 3-5 record with a 6.55 ERA, per Collier.
Entering their June 23 showdown, the Nationals have a 37-33 (.529) win-loss record to lead the National League East while the Braves are two games behind with a 35-35 (.500) mark.
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