Stephen Strasburg is ready – and so is the Washington Nationals' ticket office.
The Nationals said after Monday’s 14-4 win over Houston that their prized pitching prospect will make his major league debut against Pittsburgh on June 8 at Nationals Park.
The 21-year-old right-hander is first scheduled to start for Triple-A Syracuse at Buffalo on Thursday. General manager Mike Rizzo told MLB.com that Strasburg will throw six innings, or 95 pitches. Rizzo told the website that he, pitching coordinator Spin Williams and pitching coach Steve McCatty mapped out a specific plan for Strasburg at spring training.
“We believe he is ready to go,” Rizzo said. “We like that Stephen could bounce back from tough outings.”
The Nationals, 24th in the majors in attendance, wasted no time promoting the date. They sent out an e-mail to fans titled “Breaking News” and announcing a “New Era 4-game flex plan” tied to Strasburg’s arrival. They also noted the “expected large crowds” for the June 8 game and encouraged fans to buy their tickets in advance.
Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft who signed a record $15.1 million, four-year contract, is 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA in five Triple-A starts. In 10 minor league starts, including five with Double-A Harrisburg, Strasburg is 6-2 with a 1.43 ERA, with 60 strikeouts in 50 innings.
The two-time All-American from San Diego State allowed three runs and six hits in five-plus innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are benching second baseman Aki Iwamura, their highest-paid player but one of the majors’ worst-performing hitters. Iwamura, who is being paid $4.85 million, has shown little range in the field and his .173 batting average is the third lowest in the majors for an everyday player. … Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, who left in the second inning of his start Sunday night in Minnesota, is likely headed to the disabled list because of mild inflammation in his left rotator cuff. … The Philadelphia Phillies activated right-handed closer Brad Lidge from the disabled list after he missed 18 games because of elbow stiffness. … San Diego catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been placed on the restricted list to tend to a family matter and is expected to be away from the team for at least three days.