Stephen Strasburg will make two more starts before the All-Star break: Saturday against the Mets, then Friday, July 9 against the Giants. What happens after that remains a mystery.
Will Strasburg pitch in Anaheim against the American League All-Stars on July 13? If so, will it be because Charlie Manuel selected him for the National League roster or because fans got the chance to pick him as part of the "Last Man" vote?
And then, when will the rookie phenom pitch coming out of the break?
Here's what we know for now: Strasburg makes his sixth career start Saturday against New York (4 p.m. on Fox). On Sunday, All-Star rosters will be announced, so we'll learn whether Manuel has included the 21-year-old on his pitching staff.
Jim Riggleman has suggested all along he doesn't think it would be appropriate for Strasburg to make the squad, considering his lack of time in the majors. Today, though, the manager did acknowledge an understanding why Manuel might be justified in doing it.
"There are some consequences of winning or losing the game now that weren't there before," Riggleman said. "It's not just the honor of being there. There's an importance to winning the game now: So your league gets home-field advantage in the World Series. ...
"My initial sentiments are that people who have been here the whole time should get that recognition. But if you've done some great things, and winning the game is important, then you can make a case for Stephen being there."
Even if Manuel doesn't select Strasburg himself, fans could still get a chance to vote for him in the "Last Man" competition, which pits five deserving candidates who were left off the All-Star team. We'll know Sunday afternoon whether he's included in that competition.
Regardless, Strasburg will get one extra day of rest next week before returning to pitch July 9 against the Giants, the first time he won't be pitching on normal rest since joining the staff in early June. He figures to get plenty more extra days of rest during the season's second half as the Nationals attempt to spread his innings out through September and not have to shut him down early.
Riggleman has hinted that Strasburg is likely to be pushed to the back of the rotation coming out of the break, buying some more time. The Nationals open the second half in Florida July 16-18, then continue on a long road trip through Cincinnati (July 19-22) and Milwaukee (July 23-25). The strong bet would have him pitching one of the first two games against the Reds, then perhaps the final game against the Brewers.