One year and eight days after his latest major league appearance, Stephen Strasburg will return to the mound for the visiting Washington Nationals to face the Miami Marlins on Thursday evening.
The Marlins will go for a three-game sweep after a 2-1, 10-inning win on Wednesday night.
Strasburg, a right-hander, is set to complete his comeback from thoracic outlet surgery.
“I told him: ‘For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you,'” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “I said: ‘This has been a difficult time for you, but you worked your butt off to get back. Go out there and have fun.'”
Strasburg, a 33-year-old three-time All-Star and the 2019 World Series MVP, made three rehab starts in the minors over the past three weeks. He went 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA. In his most recent outing, he threw 83 pitches and six scoreless innings of one-hit ball for Triple-A Rochester.
Martinez said when asked how long Strasburg could go on Thursday, “I’m going to take it one pitch at a time and see where he’s at. He feels good. He’s in a good place.”
Strasburg, who is 21-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 36 career starts against Miami, said he didn’t look at calendars during his recovery.
“I just looked at (Thursday),” Strasburg said. “That’s it.”
Washington will look for improved offense after managing just one run on seven hits in 10 innings on Wednesday. The first four hitters in Washington’s batting order combined to go 1-for-17.
The Marlins will counter Strasburg with left-hander Trevor Rogers (2-5, 5.80 ERA).
In five career starts against the Nationals, Rogers is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA. The left-hander beat Washington earlier this season, when he tossed six innings and gave up one run and two hits on April 28.
Rogers, Miami’s first-round draft pick in 2017, had his breakout season last year, going 7-8 with a 2.64 ERA in 25 starts. He finished second in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year.
This year has been a relative struggle for Rogers, who has just one quality start in 10 tries. The Marlins are 2-8 in his outings, and in his past three games, Rogers pitched to an 9.24 ERA.
Rogers is part of a top-heavy Marlins rotation that includes Sandy Alcantara (1.61 ERA in 12 starts), Pablo Lopez (2.18 ERA in 11 starts) and Edward Cabrera (0.75 ERA in two starts).
The Marlins hope Rogers can get back on track and that Jesus Luzardo (4.03 ERA in six starts) can make a successful return from the injured list.
Miami also is looking for a quick return from center fielder Jesus Sanchez, who sat out Wednesday due to a back injury. Sanchez is listed as day-to-day.
“He didn’t have his usual giant smile,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Sanchez. “I don’t know (where his recovery) goes. I didn’t have a good feeling when I saw him.”
Fortunately for the Marlins, they have a healthy Jesus Aguilar, who produced the game-winning single on Wednesday. His hit made it to center field — but only after striking the second-base bag on what may have otherwise been a groundout.
“That was crazy,” Aguilar said. “The game gives you what you deserve, and I got lucky when the ball hit the base.”
–Field Level Media