Stephen Strasburg gets his best test tonight at Syracuse

So far in Stephen Strasburg’s rehab assignment, the right-hander has given everyone a little taste of what they wanted to see - the fastball that pushes triple digits, the curveball that makes a drastic course change on its way to the plate and the tenacity of a competitor who looks like he won’t stop until he’s standing at the top of the league.

But it’s been tough to get an accurate measure of Strasburg’s progress, largely because there’s such a big difference between the hitters he’s been facing and the hitters he will be facing. Batters at the Single-A level, either in awe of Strasburg or raring to take him down, have been swinging early and often. And the results have been about as polarized as you’d expect; Strasburg has struck out 17.4 batters per nine innings, while allowing 10.6 hits per nine innings.

He’ll move to the Triple-A level tonight, though, starting for Syracuse against Rochester, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. And in five innings tonight, Strasburg should get a better sense of where his pitches are at. He’s needed more time to work on his breaking ball, which is usually the last pitch to come back for pitchers returning from Tommy John. But it’s been tough for him to do that when he hasn’t been able to set up hitters like he normally would. His last two starts, then, should be a better test of how his stuff shapes up before he returns to the majors in early September.

Strasburg’s start at Syracuse will be televised on MASN following the Orioles-Yankees game and the subsequent broadcast of O’s Xtra (tentatively 10:30 p.m.). The game will also be re-aired on Sunday following the Orioles-Yankees game and the subsequent broadcast of O’s Xtra (tentatively 5:00 p.m.).

If the Saturday Orioles-Yankees game is rained out, the Nationals game will be moved from MASN2 to MASN, and the Syracuse game will air following Nats Xtra postgame.