It's easy to forget just how quickly Stephen Strasburg has risen through the minor leagues. This time last year, he hadn't even been drafted; one record setting contract and seven minor league appearances later, it's safe to say he's ready for the major leagues.
Before tonight's start, he had combined for a 1.29 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 across the upper minors. Tonight he outdid himself, no-hitting the Norfolk Tides through six innings. Strasburg added seven strikeouts and walked one batter, just the third baserunner he has allowed in 12 Triple A innings.
So when can Nationals fans expect Strasburg to deliver his first major league pitch? Nationals president Stan Kasten told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that it will be "soon," without being any more specific. A glance at the Syracuse Chiefs' schedule shows that Strasburg will likely start on the 17th, the 22nd and the 27th of May.
That would line Strasburg up for a June 1st start. If the Nationals keep him in the minors for three more May starts, they can call him to the majors on June 1st. That would almost certainly be late enough to prevent Strasburg from becoming a Super Two player and earning millions more through arbitration. However, calling Strasburg up in May would give him a chance at Super Two status.
In theory, the Nationals could make money by calling their phenom up. As USA Today's Mel Antonen reported this week, attendance figures and merchandise sales have spiked wherever Strasburg has pitched. This could happen in Washington, too, but the Nationals have just five home dates remaining in May, and they would only be able to start Strasburg once on their upcoming homestand.
It seems much more likely that the Nationals will keep Strasburg in the minors for three more starts, save themselves a few million and call on the phenom to face the Astros in Houston June 1st.