DENVER -- We've been speculating about the date of Stephen Strasburg's big-league debut for months now. (For the record, way back on March 8, I threw out June 8 vs. the Pirates as a projected date, though in our official season predictions on Opening Day, I bumped it back to June 9.)
Well, we can start narrowing it down a bit now, thanks to today's news that Strasburg will be given an extra day of rest prior to his next start for Class AAA Syracuse. That means he next pitches Tuesday at Rochester against the Minnesota Twins' top affiliate.
What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Well, if he stays on a five-day schedule from there on, he'd line up to start on (what do you know?) Tuesday, June 8 against the Pirates.
But there's another possible scenario. What if the Nationals decide to keep giving him an extra day off the rest of his time in Syracuse? By doing this, they would perhaps save a few innings up for the major leagues, while also lining him up to debut Friday, June 4 against the Reds. The other added benefit of such a plan: Strasburg could then return to pitch the final game of that homestand at Nationals Park, Thursday, June 10 against the Pirates. That's two big gates for the club against two opponents that normally wouldn't bring many bodies in.
Now, I'd still caution against paying a lot of money for tickets to one of those games purely on the hunch that you're going to get to see Strasburg's debut. But it would certainly appear now that the magic date will either be June 4 or June 8. It would take some serious finagling to line him up for the weekend against the Reds (June 5-6).