Strasburg will only pitch at home in September

During his minor league rehab assignment, Stephen Strasburg made all six of his starts at the Nationals’ home affiliates, so the team could retain more control over the environment where the 23-year-old would pitch, especially if it rained. Once Strasburg returns to the majors next week, the Nationals will use the same policy.

Team sources said Strasburg will make four starts during the month of September, all of them coming at Nationals Park. His first three will come on regular rest, on Sept. 6, 11 and 16, but the Nationals will push his fourth start back so it occurs Sept. 23 or 24 against Atlanta at home, instead of Sept. 21 in Philadelphia.

The reasons for the move are similar to the ones the Nationals used for keeping Strasburg’s starts at home in the minors: they can reap the financial windfall from his starts being at Nationals Park, instead of giving the gate to a division opponent in Philadelphia or Florida. They also have control over when the game starts if there is rain before the first pitch, though that’s less of a significant consideration in the majors than it is in the minors.

Strasburg will replace Livan Hernandez in the rotation, sources said, and Hernandez will spend the rest of the year mentoring some of the Nationals’ young pitchers and pinch hitting. That move was first reported by MLB.com.

And once Strasburg comes to the majors, he’ll likely be pitching in tandem with Brad Peacock, who might be the Nationals’ best pitching prospect outside of Strasburg. The Nationals will “piggyback” Peacock onto Strasburg’s start on Tuesday, effectively making a start in relief after Strasburg leaves, and sources said they will likely use that arrangement the rest of the season.