The Return of Strasburg

By R.J. Anderson //

Nationals manager Davey Johnson confirmed on Tuesday what many felt was a given over the last few weeks as he announced Stephen Strasburg will return to the Nationals rotation next week. Such a timetable gives Strasburg three starts before the season ends, but with the fantasy playoffs coming up, are those three starts worth gambling on?

As always, the answer depends on your team strength. If you have multiple frontline pitchers in place, then finding a roster spot for Strasburg might be more about preventing a competitor from grabbing the phenom than adding him with the intent to play him. Still, with a return start looming against the hapless Dodgers, you have to at least consider the option.

Rehab assignments are difficult to get a read on, and the statistics from them tend to be meaningless. Nonetheless, Strasburg’s rehab numbers are impressive: 14 1/3 innings pitched, 25 strikeouts, three walks, one home run, and 13 hits.  Reports from Strasburg’s first time back on the mound suggested his stuff was back and that he was throwing into the upper-90s with his fastball, so it isn’t ridiculous to think he could be able to contribute at the major league level right now.

There is some risk here, as any pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery is hard to predict, and it’s unlikely he would have replicate his impressive totals from last season (68 innings pitched, a 2.91 earned run average, and a 5.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio) over a full season, so imagine the volatility in asking him to do it over three starts. Even so, Strasburg is perhaps the only game changer left on the market, as he is owned in less than 60 percent of ESPN leagues, and if you want him for your own team, then grab him now.

For more on Strasburg and potential September additions, check out bloombergsports.com

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