By: Hassan Barzani (UTSA)
The Washington Nationals have sent pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg to the minor leagues. The reasoning given by the Nats was that baseball’s top pitching prospect needs to slow down his delivery from the stretch in order to speed up his arrival in the majors. The Nationals optioned the 21-year-old Strasburg, the top overall pick in June’s draft, to Double-A Harrisburg.
“It’s all about confidence—confidence in the pitches, confidence going out there. That’s the bottom line,” Strasburg said after clearing out his locker and packing his equipment bag. “The knock that people have on me is that I don’t have experience and you’re only going to get experience with time.”
“What he did out there just verified what everybody had been saying. … He did everything you wanted him to do. I don’t think camp could have gone any better for him,” manager Jim Riggleman said.
“If they tell me what to do, I’m going to do it,” Strasburg said. “Sometimes it won’t make sense, but more times than not, it’s going to work out in the long run. I trust what they’re doing with me.”
If he stays on his current pitching schedule, Strasburg would be in line to start Harrisburg’s Eastern League opener April 8 at Altoona. Rizzo wouldn’t rule out summoning Strasburg to pitch April 3, when Washington hosts the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at Nationals Park.
The Nationals’ rotation is unsettled beyond left-hander John Lannan, the presumed opening day starter, and right-hander Jason Marquis, a free-agent acquisition. But keeping Strasburg in the minors until late May or early June could save the Nationals a sizable sum of money because it delays Strasburg’s eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency.