Decision to pull Strasburg after long rain delay may shake up starting rotation

Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg only tossed 22 pitches Wednesday thanks to a 72-minute rain delay.

Strasburg pitched only two innings in the Nationals' eventual 4-3 win over the Marlins.

Manager Davey Johnson said the one hour, 12 minute rain delay played a big part in why he decided to shut down Strasburg for the night and move on to Craig Stammen. But he also was concerned about Strasburg's back.

"Actually, after about I guess it was 45 minutes, we asked him how he was, going, doing to play a little catch," Johnson said. "He was getting a little bit stiff in the back. And then it kept raining, and it became an hour. Then it was a no-brainer at that point. Generally speaking, the maximum for me is about an hour. But the fact that he got a little stiff in the back, he is not going to even hit in that situation."

Strasburg agreed, saying he did not feel as loose after sitting down to rest during the rain delay and then trying to get warmed up quickly.

"I think once you get past the 45 minutes to an hour, your body gets a little tight and everything," Strasburg said. "It is just unfortunate. I thought I was going to be able to get back out there, especially when it stopped raining, but we just weren't able to get everything ready to go in time.

"I got up to play catch a few times, nice and easy. Then, it just got to a point where the rain was still coming down they decided to move on to Craig."

Johnson believes that because it was such an abbreviated outing for Strasburg, the righty could be able to return to pitch as early as Sunday night against the Mets.

"We will see how he is tomorrow and the next day, but he could come back Sunday," Johnson said. "So, we will just have to see how we get through tomorrow.

(Today is) like a side day. Three days off,Thursday, Friday, Saturday. He could go Sunday. But we'll see tomorrow."

Strasburg had hoped he could have pitched longer, but the elements played a part in another one of his outings. He is starting to feel like something strange is going to happen in every one of his starts.

"Sure, a lot can happen later on in the game, just look at Chicago," he said. "I felt good, went out there to pound the strike zone early. That is all you can do.

"I just expect it every time. Some crazy weather is going to be going on every day I pitch."

Strasburg said the slight bit of stiffness in his back is normal and could have happened to any player sitting down for over an hour in the middle of a game.

"It is 100 percent normal," Strasburg said. "Ask anybody in here, combination of it being September, us being athletes, getting hot, sitting down for a while. It can happen to anybody. I am not 20 years old anymore."

Pitching Strasburg on Sunday could also help the Nationals buy some time in making a decision on Tanner Roark and Ross Ohlendorf. If Strasburg returns to pitch Sunday, Roark would not have to start until Monday in Philadelphia.

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