File photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg, who made his season debut April 11, is back on the mound this morning.
Along the way, the organization will be closely monitoring his pitch count and his innings count, all the while trying to limit him at season's end to about 140-150 innings.
It's a detailed plan, and they've accounted for everything. Well, except for one thing: Mother Nature.
For the second time in three outings with Harrisburg, Strasburg is scheduled to pitch in the rain. It happened Friday night, when he had to wait out a lengthy delay, then pitched for 2 1/3 innings, then wasn't brought back following another long delay. And it could be a problem again this morning.
Harrisburg is hosting Reading in a coffee-and-donuts, 10:30 a.m. special. So far, the rain is holding off and it appears the game will begin on time. But it's definitely going to be a factor all day, much as it is here in D.C.
If the game does proceed as planned, I'll try to provide some updates I can pick up along the way. So check back for that...
10:37 a.m. -- And they are underway in Harrisburg, with a 1-2-3 first inning from Strasburg. He needed all of 10 pitches to do it.
10:52 a.m. -- Another 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg. He retired the side in the second, striking out two (one on a high fastball, one on a breaking ball in the dirt).
11:13 a.m. -- A little bit of trouble for Strasburg in the third, though not much. He allowed a single, then watched as third baseman Adam Fox threw wild to first on a routine grounder to extend the inning. But he got out of it and so has now pitched three scoreless innings against Reading. Nothing doing yet for Harrisburg, so it's scoreless heading to the bottom of the third.
11:32 a.m. -- A one-out walk from Strasburg in the fourth? No problem. He just gets a 6-4-3 double play grounder to end the inning. So in four innings, he's allowed one bloop single to center and one walk while striking out five.
11:49 a.m. -- Make it five scoreless for Strasburg, who retired the side in the fifth and recorded a strikeout on a 98-mph fastball. In three starts for Harrisburg, he's now struck out 17 while walking only three. Yeah, I think this guy has a chance to be OK. The Senators, by the way, now lead 1-0 over Reading.
11:58 a.m. -- Well, I mentioned earlier that the Nationals have a firm plan in place for Strasburg and won't let him extend himself too far. Further evidence of that: He's done after five innings today. Final line: 5 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 1 bb, 6 k. 67 pitches, 48 strikes. He's in line for the win.
12:07 p.m. -- And for those wondering ... Strasburg's season totals to date: 12.1 ip, 7 h, 1 er, 3 bb, 17 k.