By Matt Snyder
Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg is within seven to 10 days of making a minor-league rehab start, according to manager Davey Johnson. The ace has been throwing batting practice and simulated games. His most recent simulated game came last Thursday, when he threw about 50 pitches and was hitting 95 on the radar gun with his fastball. He will throw one more simulated game, Tuesday (Washington Times). From there, assuming there are no setbacks, the Nationals will send Strasburg to one of their minor-league affiliates and he'll start to work his way back.
Strasburg, 23, hasn't pitched in a game since last August 21. He had season-ending "Tommy John" surgery on his right elbow shortly thereafter. The usual return time for the procedure is between 10 and 14 months, so he's on the fast side to healing, but it's not too fast.
The first overall draft pick of the 2009 draft, Strasburg announced his presence with authority last season, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. If he can return to form and stay healthy, he's projected to be one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball.
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