The Washington Nationals recently announced that pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg would begin his rehab and could start for the Nationals in September.
My question is: Why?
Pitchers do not develop the same way hitters do. An extra month of big league experience will not help him develop much. While game experience can help him a little, pitchers only have so many innings that they can throw in their careers, and by bringing Strasburg back for September, it will use some of those innings in a meaningless game.
A comeback this year can hurt him.
The first and foremost risk, of course, is injury. If the Nationals were in the middle of a pennant race, bringing back their ace to give them an extra push would make sense. Unfortunately, Washington is in last place and has almost no chance at a playoff appearance.
If Strasburg were to get injured in August during rehab or September in a game because he wasn't completely ready, that would be disastrous.
The Nationals would be much better off taking his rehab extremely slowly. They would have all winter to make sure everything goes right and that any setback is dealt with appropriately. It will also give him time to work on a red flag mechanical flaw.
The Nationals need to make sure that when Stephen Strasburg comes back he will be 100 percent and will not have a serious injury again.
They have a lot to lose and not much to gain from bringing him back this year. Why take the chance?