World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his season debut for the Washington Nationals on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles after being sidelined by a nerve problem in his pitching hand.
Strasburg missed what would have been his first two appearances of 2020 after making all 33 starts last year and then becoming the first pitcher to finish a postseason with a 5-0 record.
“The tingling in his thumb is gone, and that’s a good sign. We watched him and he’s throwing some really good bullpens. That was the big thing for me: Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything’s good,” manager Dave Martinez said Friday before Washington’s series opener against visiting Baltimore.
“So based on a conversation with him, he feels good,” Martinez added. “He wants to pitch. He’s ready to pitch on Sunday.”
For how long is another question.
“We’re going to watch him. If he gives us 75-80 pitches, that’d be awesome,” Martinez said. “But we’ll keep an eye on him.”
The 32-year-old Strasburg led the NL with 209 innings and 18 wins in 2019.
The status of another one of Martinez’s aces, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, was less clear when the manager spoke to reporters. Scherzer left his start in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Mets after just one inning because of a right hamstring issue.
Scherzer said that night he didn’t think it was a big deal. He was going to test the leg by throwing on flat ground Friday afternoon.
“I’ll touch base with him after and see how he feels,” Martinez said. “He’s going to be day-to-day.”
If Scherzer is fine, his next turn in the rotation would be Tuesday at the Mets.
The right-hander first felt something wrong with the hamstring before his previous start, six days earlier against Toronto. But Scherzer pitched anyway in that one and ended up throwing an MLB season-high 112 pitches across 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
The leg acted up again when Scherzer was doing his usual sprinting a day before Wednesday’s game.