Having experienced no setbacks in his bullpen session at Nationals Park this afternoon, Stephen Strasburg has been cleared to pitch Saturday for Class AAA Syracuse in what will be the penultimate start of his minor-league rehab assignment.
Strasburg, who has made four starts for Class A affiliates Hagerstown and Potomac, will make the leap up to Class AAA, facing the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday night. He should be allowed to go up to five innings or 75 pitches, whichever comes first.
The right-hander noted after his last outing at Hagerstown that he could benefit from pitching against higher competition after facing nothing but Class A batters who often are overly aggressive at the plate and don't offer him and opportunity to pitch with a gameplan.
"I think it would help me out a lot," Strasburg said following a three-inning start Monday night. "I've never pitched at this level before. This is kind of new. I'm still trying to figure out how these guys are going to approach me. ... I've really learned how to set guys up. At this level, I don't really have a chance to set them up, because they're already swinging."
The step up does provide another challenge that has nothing to do with the act of pitching. Because National League affiliates don't