If all goes well, Nationals fans could see Stephen Strasburg back in a Major League uniform by the end of this season.
It was reported this week that the pitching phenom and 2009 first-overall Draft pick hit 95 miles per hour with his fastball off a mound in a simulated game. He’s been throwing live batting practice at the Nationals’ Spring Training Complex in Florida and has been increasing his pitch count. It’s clear his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery is going smoothly so far.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told the media recently that he wants Strasburg to throw 50 innings before he returns to the Majors. That would mean he’d pitch several more simulated games in Florida before moving onto rehabilitation assignments in their Minor League system.
If we look at Jordan Zimmermann’s recovery from the same injury and the same surgery last year, it’s clear Nats fans have the right to be optimistic about Strasburg. Zimmermann pitched in 10 Minor League starts last summer beginning on July 3, and made his return to the Big Leagues at the end of August. In his time in the Minors last year, he pitched to a 1.59 ERA with 31 strikeouts. His return to the Majors came almost exactly a year after he underwent Tommy John surgery—and on the day of his season debut we learned that Strasburg would take the same journey Zimmermann had just completed.
Zimmermann has been solid in his starts since returning from surgery, so it may be fair to expect Strasburg to do the same. Though we may only see the fireballer make a select few Major League starts this season, the excitement level from his Major League debut is sure to return to Nationals Park.
And just think—should his progress continue at its current pace, wouldn’t a one-two punch at the top of the rotation like Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann be pretty spectacular in 2012?