Stephen Strasburg’s Big League Debut

3:37pm: The Nationals tentatively plan to call Strasburg up at home against the Pirates next month, writes's Bill Ladson. No date is set, but we'll get five or six days of notice before the start. The Nationals host the Pirates June 8th-10th.

10:18am: A source close to the Nationals supports Heyman's note below – June 4th is unlikely for Strasburg's debut.  Instead, expect him in the middle of June or even toward month's end.  Of course, the Nationals don't mind the extra ticket sales resulting from the June 4th rumor. – Tim Dierkes

WEDNESDAY, 8:41am: SI's Jon Heyman tweets that mid-June is a better guess than June 4th for Strasburg's debut, given the pitcher's target of 100 big league innings.  A June 4th debut would project to 22 Major League starts for Strasburg, which would probably put him over that target.  Of course, the Nats could shut him down in September if need be.

TUESDAY, 6:07pm: It's looking more and more like Stephen Strasburg will debut against the Reds on June 4th. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes that Strasburg will start this Saturday at Triple A. If all goes well – and that 0.99 pro ERA suggests it will – the Nationals could call on the prospect to open their homestand next Friday. GM Mike Rizzo told Kilgore that the club has not yet decided when to call up Strasburg.

Calling Strasburg up next Friday would give him five days of rest and ensure that his first two starts are at home. Just as importantly, Strasburg would have next to no chance of becoming a super two player after 2012. A June 4th callup would prevent Strasburg from picking up more than 122 days of service time this year and would reduce the chances that he goes to arbitration four times. Since arbitration-eligible players cost much more than the MLB minimum, it's in the Nationals' best interest to prevent their top prospect from becoming a super two.

Strasburg could make his debut against the Reds, maybe even against Mike Leake, who was also a top-ten pick in last year's draft. The Reds would have to skip someone in the rotation for the two youngsters to match up, but with Homer Bailey injured, Dusty Baker could decide to do just that. Strasburg's debut should be memorable no matter what, but imagine seeing him begin his major league career against another pitcher who had no pro experience a year ago.

28 Responses to Stephen Strasburg’s Big League Debut Leave a Reply

  1. GeronimoJansen 5 years ago

    Reds should call up Aroldis Chapman and they should debut against each other.

  2. jonnyl 5 years ago

    Strasburg and EVO 4G? Looks like Christmas comes on June 4 this year.

  3. trooper5 5 years ago

    San Diego was begging for him to be brought up for a start there cause of the hometown ties: link to

  4. Once again, Super Two doesn’t mean much on Strasburg because he’s guaranteed $3.9 million in 2012 if he’s NOT eligible for arbitration.

    • mw3 5 years ago

      Just what I thought when I read the story. Delaying Free Agency would have meant leaving him in the minors for only about three weeks, so that leaves limiting his innings and insuring a soft landing as the probable reasons.

    • vtadave 5 years ago

      Cots has Strasburg at $3 million in 2012, but regardless, this still could potentially save the Nats millions should Strasburg live up to the hype. As I recall, Ryan Howard earned $10 million as a super-two.

    • The issue of super 2 affects his pay for the 2013 season, not 2012. He’ll have < 2 years of service prior to the 2012 season

    • The super 2 eligibility actually impacts his pay for the 2013 season, not 2012. He’ll have 0.X years of service after this year, 1.X after 2011, 2.X after 2012. Meaning that he’ll have < 2 years of service when it comes time to set his 2012 salary.

      Note: This might create a double post, due to an earlier post being caught in moderation. I apologize if that is the case.

      • Yankees420 5 years ago

        Strasburg’s 2012 salary is already set via the 4 year contract he signed with the Nationals after they drafted him. He might have gotten more than 3MM in 2012 if he were going to arbitration and lived up to the hype, but its all moot, seeing how he won’t be a Super 2. My guess is that the Nats lock him up long term going into the 2013 season if he lives up to his ace potential.

        • Yes, you’re correct that his 2012 salary is contractually set.

          However, even if it wasn’t, there was absolutely no way he could have had his salary set via arbitration for the 2012 season.

          To be a Super 2, you have to have nearly 3 years of MLB service (be in the top 17 pecent of players with more than 2 but less than 3 years of service). If Strasburg had made the team out of Spring Training this year, he would have had 2.00 years of service prior to the 2012 season – the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

          The Super 2 issue was whether or not he could go to arbitration to set his salary for the 2013 season. If he had accumulated, say, 135 days of service time in 2010, he would have had a shot at Super 2 following the 2012 season (135 days + 2011 season + 2012 season), meaning he could go to arbitration for the 2013 salary.

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            I see what you’re saying now, I misinterpreted your other post, and miscalculated the math on his Super 2 status.

  5. The Reds aren’t going to switch around their rotation just to get the two to pitch in the same game. Aroldis is not ready and has a blister so that definitely won’t happen. The baseball season is 162 games long, flipping a rotation to get one match up to be a crowd pleaser is not going to happen. They will enjoy Strasburg enough alone. The Reds are going to do their best to win if it happens and whoever turn it falls on will pitch.

    • Unless the Reds’ cut of the gate is THAT good, then no. Besides, wouldn’t that leave Leake on short rest?

      • Strasburg is the reason minor league games are actually televised because people want to see him pitch. First start in DC would easily be a sellout even if we pitched a AA pitcher. I hope he does get called up for that game I would like to see how the Reds handle his stuff. They have some good fastball hitters in the lineup.

  6. It would be nice to see Strasburg and Leake match up. I bet Strasburg throws 80 pitches in 6 innings and goes on to compete for the ROY (Rookie of the Year). Leake will throw 135 in 7 1/3 (the last 45 coming after a 6th inning rain delay of 1 1/2 hours) and go on to compete for NMP (Next Mark Prior). Thanks Dusty!

    • You forgot to mention when the Reds are in the lead, or tied in a close game, Dusty will look to the bullpen, see a lights out Rhodes warming up and instead bring in Masset to give up a few runs and make it “exciting” in the end.

  7. gwells 5 years ago

    or the nats could skip a start here or there and give him extra rest. i think heyman’s full of crap here, since he seems to be the only one who doesn’t think it’s going to be june 4.

    • souldrummer 5 years ago

      This makes little sense. They are projecting 150-160 total innings. He’s at 45+ minor league innings. He hits 50 in the minors during his next start and comes up for 100 innings. They shut him down early like they’ve done with some other pitchers.

      This guy is yet another who is probably assuming too much about the Nats ability to stay above .500 and remain in the pennant race as pressure to use him in September.

      Nats may be lucky to be 3 under .500 with their offense struggling as they hit a tough road trip.

      • gwells 5 years ago

        (a) hence “skip a start here or there” for rest. or limit innings per start. rizzo has indicated that this may happen. and yes, they’ll shut him down when he hits his innings limit. but if he’s not really learning any more in the minors by facing lower-quality hitters, is he really better-served by pitching 75 innings in the minors and 75 in the majors instead of 50/100?

        (b) your presumption says more about you than me, since you obviously don’t read what i write here. i’ve never (here or on any other site) said that I think the nats are actually contending for playoff position. and i don’t believe that they are. i’m enjoying the run, but i’ve thought all along that their best bet for contending is 2012 and that 500 should be the stretch goal for this season.

        (c) i wouldn’t call this road trip necessarily “tough.” it’s not as easy as the next homestand (reds/pirates), but SF/SD/Hou isn’t exactly murderer’s row.

        my comments have nothing to do with whether the nationals contend in 2010. it’s about what best serves strasburg’s development. you want to see this guy continue to get better and learn his craft. as i said above, i don’t see how he’s better served pitching 75/75 instead of 50/100. especially since he’s mostly dominated AA/AAA in those 45ish innings.

  8. bigpat 5 years ago

    I don’t see how they can justify keeping him down in the minors at this point. They are in the middle of a playoff race and will feel so foolish once they call him up and realize instantly that he’s their best pitcher. Meanwhile they are wasting time with guys like Atiliano, Stammen, and who knows what else they throw out there in the back of their rotation. He will be a stud and he can certainly pitch the innings, that shouldn’t be an issue.

    • ReverendBlack 5 years ago

      They are planning to be in many playoff races after this year, with better odds of success. That’s part of the justification.

  9. susasskuash 5 years ago

    My problem of Heyman’s take on Strasburg is that he is basing his predictions on this “handshake agreement” not to pitch SS more than 100 innings that a) the team has denied, b) Boras & co. have denied and c) nobody else is reporting. Then Nats probably do want to limit his total innings this season, as well as pitch counts, but it’s because of Mike Rizzo’s developmental philosophy and not any agreement with Boras.

    • gwells 5 years ago

      i think that limit was misreported. if that came up at all, it was probably in context of *major league* innings, not total innings. as souldrummer mentioned above, the more realistic innings count is 150-160. and if he comes up on the schedule people are projecting, that’s about 100 in the majors.

  10. Yankees420 5 years ago

    Just picked him up on my fantasy team, so hopefully it’ll be June 4th.

  11. Against the Pirates next month, is that June 8, 9, or 10?

    Can someone let me know ASAP, I wanna order tickets as soon as I can.

  12. East Coast Bias 5 years ago

    Well, considering we were originally hearing June 4th, if he makes that start still in AAA, then all signs point to a June 9th debut in the majors.

    Not confirming, just my own speculation.

  13. I’m so going to pee my pants.

  14. BeatEmBucs 5 years ago

    If it happens, hopefully Alvarez is up by then as well.

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