ST. LOUIS -- Now that Drew Storen's big-league debut is out of the way, all eyes can shift to the other guy about to debut with the Nationals. (Who would have thought the spotlight would shift off Stephen Strasburg, if only for 24 hours?)
We've been outlining in detail the Strasburg Plan for some time now, but it is becoming clearer how this all is going to play out. Yesterday, MASN announced it will televise the right-hander's next two starts with Syracuse (tonight at Rochester, tape-delayed at 11:30 p.m., and May 23 against Toledo live at 5 p.m.).
So we know Strasburg is pitching at least twice more in the minors, and he won't get an extra day of rest between the two. The key will be when and where the next start after that takes place.
Syracuse has May 26 off but has a scheduled doubleheader the following day at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. If Strasburg stays on a five-day schedule, he would pitch May 28, also at S/W-B. But what if the organization wants to give him one last home start at Syracuse? By bumping him back one more day, he could start May 29, still against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but now in Syracuse.
That would then line up Strasburg to make his Nationals debut June 4 against the Reds, and also set him up to make his second big-league start June 10 against the Pirates. Both games would be at Nationals Park.
The only other realistic possibility would have Strasburg staying on a strict, five-day schedule. If he does that, he'd pitch May 28 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, then June 2 at Buffalo (both road starts). All of that would set him up to debut June 8 against the Pirates.
Of the two, the first scenario sure makes a lot more sense.
Mike Rizzo, of course, isn't spilling the beans just yet.
"I know in my mind what the development plan is for him," he said yesterday when asked about the guessing game going on in the media. "I have a window. I know when he's going to come up. But I don't scoff or laugh at the conjecture. I understand what you guys have to do. In this job, you're open for criticism, whether you do it now or you do it later. You either held him a month too long or put him a month too soon. I've got to look in the mirror, and I've got to develop him the way I believe he needs to be developed. That's why I'm the general manager of the team, because I have developed players in the past, and that's how I got the job. I feel comfortable with his developmental schedule. I think it's the right schedule, and I think it's best for him long-term."