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UPDATED: Strasburg activated; Ross sent down

Jun 23, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT

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[Updated: 5:35 p.m.]

The Nationals activated right-hander Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list on Tuesday with plans for him to start later in the day in their series opener against the Atlanta Braves.

Rookie starter Joe Ross was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse as the corresponding move.

Strasburg rejoins the Nats’ rotation after nearly a month on the shelf with a strained left trapezius muscle. He was removed from his last start on May 29 against the Cincinnati Reds with what was first described as neck tightness.

Strasburg made just one rehab assignment start during his recovery, on June 17 with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. He allowed one earned run on four hits through five innings and threw 71 total pitches. Strasburg then threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park on Saturday before getting cleared to return.

Strasburg has dealt with a litany of minor injuries this season that have altered his throwing mechanics. It all started during spring training when he sprained his left ankle. That caused him to adjust his throwing motion, which tightened up his back. He saw a chiropractor and then returned to the Nats’ rotation, only to then feel tightness in his neck.

Strasburg holds a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts this season with a .325 opponent’s batting average.

Ross leaves the Nationals after making three starts to begin his MLB career. He went 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA and was particularly impressive in his most recent outing with 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.

Manager Matt Williams said Ross really impressed the Nationals in the few weeks he was up in Washington.

“The way he went about his business was like a professional. He made his starts and he worked hard in between them to be prepared, and he pitched really well for us. So all of those things make us open our eyes and say, ‘Oh, this very young gentleman has got a real bright future in this game.’ He did really well,” he said.

The Nationals will continue to develop Ross as a starter, even though that plan leaves no place for the right-hander in the majors with the rest of their rotation at full health.

“For him, it’s better for him to be a starter. He hasn’t relieved. If you have spring training to work on it, it’s one thing, but in the middle of the season, it’s not fair to Joe to say ‘OK, now you’re a reliever and we’re going to call down and you need to get ready in 10 pitches.’ It’s just not fair. So he’ll continue his progress,” Williams said.

  1. stoatva - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:38 PM

    No pressure, Stras.

  2. laddieblahblah - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    C’mon, Steven.

  3. tcostant - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:46 PM

    I’m glad they sent Ross down to start, didn’t want to jerk him around in the pen. We’ll see him next time we has a double header, I’m sure…

    • letswin3 - Jun 23, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      If it was a choice of either sending him down or moving him to the Pen, I’m also glad they sent him down. Keep giving him starts and remind him that he is permitted to throw to both sides of the plate. I would never wish ill health on a rotation guy, but I sure would like to see Ross get a few more starts with the big club this season.

    • wearenationals - Jun 23, 2015 at 7:01 PM

      I’d rather see Ross start tonight than SS. I’ve lost all confidence that Stras will ever step up while wearing the curly W. I’ll be more than happy to eat crow if he performs well tonight, but I’m ready for SS (and Mr E6) to move on after this season.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 23, 2015 at 9:58 PM

        Except that Strasburg is under team control through next season.

  4. mauimo22 - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    I think this is a mistake. I hope Stras proves me wrong. He’s gotta be mentally tough. Hopefully he listened to some good audio books on the subject. Joe Cool Ross is ICE. You can’t teach that. No reason to send him down.

    Tonight we’ll see.

    • NatsLady - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:03 PM

      I think it was challenging for Roark to be both in the bullpen and then suddenly take over a rotation spot when he had not been extended. He was lucky to do as well as he did in the first couple of starts. Also, it left a hole in the bullpen.

      So, they’re learning from that. You’d rather have a fully stretched out guy (Ross) at the ready In Syracuse and Roark in the pen. Ross has never been in the pen, who knows how he would do in the Roark/Stammen role? He could sit around for a week, then be needed two consecutive days, which he hasn’t done, and we know Roark has. You don’t need two of those guys in the pen.

      He’ll be back soon enough, something always happens.

  5. NatsLady - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    It seems odd he had only one rehab start and only 71 pitches. I would not expect him to go beyond five innings tonight, especially with the heat and a possible (probable?) rain delay. I’m assuming Roark is ready for a few innings.

  6. masterfishkeeper - Jun 23, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    Interesting that Ross went to Syracuse.

    I was kind of hoping for the bullpen, to keep his innings down, so that he could pitch longer into the season. But I understand the Nats’ philosophy on this, or at least think I do.

    • NatsLady - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:06 PM

      As I posted above, when you look at the pitching staff as a whole (rotation and bullpen), it seems like the right move. Unless you go to a six-man rotation, Ross has to go the the bullpen–and there’s no real place for him there when Roark is there.

  7. jd - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    What you don’t want to do is send Ross down after he’s had a few challenging starts. Instead of sending him down for performance they are simply returning to their original plan and at the same time they have a young pitcher who has exceeded expectations and may be on the fast track to a regular spot in the rotation as early as next spring or if something else happens in DC. This is a classic win/win.

  8. jd - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    It’s also interesting that sent Joe Ross to Syracuse instead of Harrisburg. Even though Syracuse is a real crappy team pitching at AAA will let Joe work against older more veteran players than he would have at AA. Another step in the development I guess.

    • knoxvillenat - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:46 PM


    • NatsLady - Jun 23, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      Agree. He might also pitch against craftier hitters, if they’re up for teaching the latest hotshot a lesson…

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 23, 2015 at 6:49 PM

      Agreed 100%.

    • janebeard - Jun 23, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      Exactly my thought — he works against tougher hitters. I hope Stras is ready to go. I’m glad we have Joe stashed away, staying ready if we need him. REALLY impressive young man. But them I’m easy to impress.

  9. Drew - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    Well, I’m glad the kid got a promotion.

    • donniebenth - Jun 23, 2015 at 4:59 PM

      It’s a darned shame that neither Gio nor Stras is cut out to pitch out of the pen.

      Arguably our 2nd and 4th best starters are in Syracuse and the bullpen respectively.

      • therealjohnc - Jun 23, 2015 at 10:41 PM

        Heh. Recency bias much?

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 23, 2015 at 6:50 PM

      I’m not too sure that Syracuse is a promotion over Harrisburg.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 23, 2015 at 11:06 PM

        I think the point is that it’s different. He gets to learn something else, maybe. He knows he’s got their attention now, and that he’ll have a good shot next season, which, for a young guy, is plenty good enough. Plus he got a few MLB paychecks, which should buy him a Blaupunct,





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