Strasburg’s next start live tonight on MASN

Stephen Strasburg’s next start for Triple-A Syracuse comes tonight, when the Chiefs take on Toledo at Alliance Bank Stadium. The game starts at 7 p.m., and will be televised live on MASN and MASN HD.

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Strasburg still hasn’t given up a run in three starts at Syracuse, and has an 0.89 ERA in the minors this year. In his last outing, he allowed three hits - two more than he’d given up in his last three starts combined - and walked two, but struck out a career-high nine in 6 1/3 innings, the longest professional start he’s made. Strasburg threw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes, in the Chiefs’ 5-1 win over Rochester.

It’s Strasburg’s fourth start at Syracuse, but could it be his last? Conventional wisdom has had the 21-year-old making his Nationals debut on June 4 against the Cincinnati Reds. But the Nationals need a pitcher on Saturday against the Padres, and if they’re going to fly a pitcher across the country to make a start, it stands to reason it’d be someone they are planning to keep on the roster. Matt Wieters made his Orioles debut on May 29 last year, when Baltimore thought he was clear of the Super Two arbitration date, so it stands to reason Strasburg would be clear of it at the same time. Strasburg would be pitching on regular rest that day, and would get to make his major-league debut in his hometown, in a park he’s pitched in before, with friends, family and possibly his college coach (Padres legend Tony Gwynn) in attendance.

My guess is still that Strasburg debuts at home, but if the Nationals need a pitcher, there would be worse things than having him make his debut in a comfortable setting, away from some of the East Coast media hype. The hitch in that plan, though, is that his second start would then fall on June 3 in Houston, unless the Nationals bumped him back a day. Now where could they find a pitcher on short rest? Well, Livan Hernandez, who would be scheduled for June 4 against the Reds, has done it once this year.

For now, Strasburg is still in the minors, though, and you can catch him on MASN tonight.