Posted on: September 7, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 11:04 am

Pepper: Crane's purchase of Astros in doubt

By Evan Brunell

Limbo: The saga of Jim Crane as Astros owner continues to take a strange path, and that path may be headed toward a rejection.

BizofBaseball.com outlines the reasons behind why the deal has stalled... and why approval may be a pipe dream at this point. You'll have to click through to get the full breakdown, but the main takeaway is that Crane shares some sobering similarities with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and we all know how that turned out.

For one, Crane had a contentious divorce himself that ended up in the papers back in 2000, where he reportedly came to blows with his son. Crane's history in court is also checkered, as allegations of racism and war-profiteering are very real concerns, and baseball understandably may not be interested in being affiliated with such a person, especially one whose companies were in federal court 130 times in 15 years.

Current Houston owner Drayton McLane expects a vote to be passed at any minute. But it won't come this week, and might not come at all unless commissioner Bud Selig and all 29 current owners can get on board. But even that might be rendered moot, as Crane is reportedly having a hard time keeping his investment group together, which is large and has investments as low as $25 million committed. Eventually, these investors may tire of having their money tied up in a venture that looks less and less ideal.

Time for a four-man: For a few years now, I've strongly believed that the best rotation would be that of four men plus a fifth starter who could start every now and then. I've blogged on it before, and now Jeff Passan comes out in favor of a four-and-swing rotation, even as teams move to six-man rotations these days. (Yahoo! Sports)

Managers of the year: You know it's September when you start seeing articles on who should win certain awards. Today, two candidates for manager of the year are discussed: The Angels' Mike Scioscia by the Orange County Times while Ron Roenicke of the Brewers gets love from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Return of Strasburg: The return of Stephen Strasburg was highly anticipated, and the phenom delivered Tuesday night with a dazzling performance. Here's a pitch F/X review of the outing. The biggest takeaway? Strasburg is throwing a new changeup. (Fangraphs)

Finally: It took three years, but Dustin McGowan has finally moved past all his injuries, surgeries and rehab. For the first time since July 2008, McGowan pitched in a game when he threw four innings Tuesday night. He wasn't lights out, but that's besides the point. (Toronto Star)

Done in Pittsburgh? Paul Maholm is shut down for the year due to injury, which may bring an end to his Pirates career. The club holds a club option, but it's anyone's guess if the option is exercised. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Venable a Bear: Wil Venable's brother has made the Chicago Bears football team. Winston was an undrafted free agent, but made the squad on special teams. (North County Times)

Beer me: If you're looking for a good beer, give AT&T Park in San Francisco a try, a destination that received a glowing beer review. (Fangraphs)

Montero wants to return: 'Zona catcher Miguel Montero will be in his final year of arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. The backstop has indicated his desire to stay, and the team has reciprocated, with both sides likely to discuss an extension after the season. (Arizona Republic)
Team USA
: Brett Jackson won't be called up to the Cubs this season, as he will instead play for Team USA in the Pan American Games. With a solid spring training, Jackson should cement himself as the Cubs' center fielder. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Back in L.A.: Rod Barajas has found a home in Los Angeles and is interested in returning. The Dodgers may disagree, though, and may prefer to go young at the position next year. (Los Angeles Times)

Social day: Speaking of L.A., it's hard to argue against the fact that the Dodgers have taken the biggest step back in public relations this year. As an attempt to reconnect with fans, the team is holding a Social September campaign, a month-long campaign that will give fans the ability to win prizes and interact with the team. (MLB.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 9:13 pm

Strasburg dazzles in return

Stephen Strasburg

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Our own Danny Knobler will have more from Washington later, but if you missed it -- Stephen Strasburg didn't disappoint in his return from Tommy John surgery. In his first start in the majors just days after the anniversary of his surgery, Strasburg was dominant, throwing five shutout innings, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out four.

As impressive as the results were, so too were the brush strokes on the masterpiece -- a fastball that was clocked as high as 99 mph, the same knee-buckling curveball we saw last year and the change up that can make anyone looking for heat look silly. As many words as have been used to describe Strasburg, they all seem apt.

Last season his debut dress both viewers and raves. Strasmas went from a one-time event to a traveling carnival, and even if he didn't live up to the billing in every start, nobody walked away not understanding that the hype was justified.

Tuesday was no different.

Many pitchers have come back from Tommy John surgery, so coming back soon and even better isn't unheard of at this point. However, for most pitchers coming back requires the search for their old release point and control. In Strasburg's return, he had 14 first-pitch strikes to the 17 batters he faced and didn't seem to have an errant pitch. And that's what's always been so impressive about Strasburg, it's not just the stuff, but the command. He knows he can overpower a batter and also trick them. Set up for one and you set up for failure. 

In the fourth inning, one of baseball's best, Matt Kemp, watched two strikes and a ball all at 96 mph or better and then went after a 90 mph two-seam fastball that darted down below the zone that had Kemp flailing at it for the third strike and Strasburg's third strikeout of the night.

In all, Strasburg threw 56 pitches, 40 for strikes. He gave up a leadoff double to Dodgers rookie Dee Gordon to lead off the game (on what would have been a single for anyone with mere human speed) before retiring the next 11 batters he faced. The only other hit was a grounder by Juan Rivera that shortstop Ian Desmond got a glove on, but couldn't corral.

There will be bumps along the way, that's what baseball's all about. But Tuesday wasn't one of those bumps, instead it was a triumph, one of many seemingly to come.

If everything pans out for the Nationals -- which of course will always be a huge if -- the one thing Strasburg brings is not only an ace, but maybe something just a tad more  -- that ace that isn't swayed by an stage or any spotlight. Strasburg's entire career has been in the spotlight, one that has been bright and hasn't bothered him a bit.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 4:48 pm

On Deck: Strasburg returns, Worley chases history

By Evan Brunell

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

StrasburgViva Strasburg: Stephen Strasburg is set to make his 2011 debut on Tuesday, but it could be washed away by rain. Right now, the game is being threatened and likely to be called or at the very least, delayed. Skipper Davey Johnson told the Washington Post that a delay or even a threat of one would scrub Strasburg's start, so you can expect him to pitch tomorrow instead. Assuming Strasburg pitches he'll do so up against the Dodgers and Ted Lilly. Lilly has been on a roll as of late, lowering his ERA to 4.13 and will look to win his third straight game against Washington. Dodgers vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

SantanaHernandezBest matchup
: The Angels are hoping to keep their rebound going by sending Ervin Santana to the mound against Seattle. Santana has had a career season to date, the likes of which he hasn't seen since 2008. Santana isn't as good as his 3.27 ERA shows, but he's still plenty good and will have a stiff test against Felix Hernandez. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has an identical 3.27 ERA, but has a 2.63 ERA in his last seven starts, the Associated Press says. Santana can do better than that, as he's run up a 2.13 ERA in his last 12 starts. It lines up what should be a very intriguing matchup, as Hernandez has killed the Angels this season, but L.A. is riding a hot streak. Mariners vs. Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

WorleyClosing in on Carlton: That's Steve Carlton, not Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Vance Worley is taking the mound for the 14th time this season since his one and only loss this season back on May 29. In those 13 games since, Philadelphia has won every game, and Worley is now closing in on the franchise record for that distinction, which is held by Steve Carlton. The Phillies won 15 straight games in 1972, the Associated Press says. The longest winning streak the team has with a rookie pitcher is 14 by Wayne Simpson in 1970, so Worley can make some franchise history Tuesday night. He'll run up against Tim Hudson, looking for his 15th victory. Braves vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am

Pepper: Capping Strasburg's 2012 innings


By Evan Brunell

Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.

As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.

Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.

Mattingly eager
: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers.  "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."

It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:

"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."

Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.

Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.

"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."

Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."

9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)

Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)

Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)

Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)

Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)

Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:16 am

On Deck: Lincecum/Kennedy battle highlights day

On Deck

By Evan Brunell

Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

DiamondbacksGiantsNL West battle continues: The Giants stopped Arizona from winning its 10th straight game and also pulled to within five of the division lead. San Francisco needs to do much more than that to have any hope of winning the division, though, and will turn to ace Tim Lincecum and his 2.58 ERA to try to hold 'Zona back. But Ian Kennedy is a tall order to face, as he holds a slim 3.03 ERA and is also angling to become the NL's first 18-game winner. He's only coughed up one run in his last two starts, punching out 15. It's shaping up to be quite a pitcher's duel. Diamondbacks vs. Giants, 9:05 p.m. ET

WeaverWeaver takes mound: The Angels slipped to 4 1/2 back in the AL West after Friday's games, but can try to make up some ground on Saturday if Jered Weaver can silence the Twins, which shouldn't be too tall of a task.The Rangers have to fall to Boston for a full game to be made up, but L.A. will take winning their own game. Weaver, winner of six straight, will oppose Brian Duensing a night after the Twins pasted the Angels 13-5 to win their second straight. The Twins haven't won three games or more in a row since July 5, and that's a mark that might stand as they stare at Weaver's 2.28 ERA and wonder what they're supposed to do. Twins vs. Angels, 9:05 p.m. ET

MiloneDebut: The Nationals are shuffling their rotation for September to get a look at their minor-league players. One of these pitchers draws the ball Saturday, as Tom Milone makes his big-league debut against the Mets. Milone had a 3.22 ERA for Triple-A this year, punching out 155 and walking 16 in 148 1/3 innings, strong numbers despite not being considered a heralded prospect. He'll have to face a streaking David Wright, who is hitting .500 over his last 26 at-bats and has hit the Nats well as of late. Wright will be manning the hot corner at third behind Dillon Gee. The Mets have won seven of eight. Mets vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 6:33 pm

Livan the mentor/pinch-hitter

By Matt Snyder

Nationals starting pitcher Livan Hernandez will start Sunday, and it will be his last outing of the season (William Ladson via Twitter). He's not hurt and he's not necessarily retiring, but instead Hernandez is stepping aside so future ace -- well, we could really call him the present ace and it wouldn't really be a stretch -- Stephen Strasburg can join the rotation.

Hernandez was informed that he was being kept with the team to serve as a "mentor/coach."

Even more interesting is that, despite having expanded rosters, Hernandez isn't going to pitch out of the bullpen at all. He will, however, be available as a pinch hitter (Ladson Twitter).

This is weird and actually kind of cool. The best part is that Hernandez reportedly has no issue with his change in role. In fact, he said he understands the Nationals need to get a look at the young players in looking ahead to 2012 (Ladson Twitter).

Will this be the end? You could make an argument that Hernandez will hang up the cleats at the conclusion of this season, but I feel like he'll stick around. He's 36 and can still eat innings with the best of 'em. This season, he's 8-12 with a 4.29 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 170 innings. Those aren't good numbers, but they aren't awful either. He can fill a No. 5 starter spot for someone if he wants to keep pitching and it seems like he does. He did reportedly say he'd only be a long reliever for the Nats next season (Ladson Twitter) -- as in, he would be willing to be a long reliever if it meant he could stay with the Nats. He just wouldn't want to be a long reliever with anyone else.

More Nationals
In looking at Washington's projected rotation for next season, there are three definites, barring injury: Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan. One would expect 25-year-old Ross Detwiler to nail down the fourth spot in the spring rather easily, too. So Hernandez could fill the fifth spot -- if the Nats don't elect to retain Chien-Ming Wang or sign a free agent from outside the organization -- until prospects like Brad Peacock or Tom Milone are deemed ready. If one of the two is ready immediately out of spring training, there's no starting spot for Hernandez. Basically, Hernandez would only be a temp.

The only active pitcher with more innings is Tim Wakefield, as Hernandez has accrued 3,116 1/3 in his career. Hernandez is the active leader in career games started and only Roy Halladay has more complete games among active pitchers.

So, yeah, Hernandez has experience and he's been getting hitters out with lackluster stuff for the past several years. He'll be a fine mentor for the young Nationals' pitching staff the rest of this season. As for the pinch-hitting, he's 10-for-44 with a double and seven RBI this season, so they could do worse.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:40 am

Pepper: Royals could resemble Brewers soon

By Evan Brunell

Promising turnaround: The Royals figure to lose at least 90 games, but the chatter in baseball remains overwhelmingly positive for Kansas City, who is drawing comparisons to Milwaukee.

Boasting the best farm team in the bigs, K.C. has already begun integrating its young players into the team, especially on offense where the Royals have a brand-new infield. Shortstop Alcides Escobar kicked off the year with the Royals after coming over from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade, while Eric Hosmer received the first minor-league promotion at first base. Mike Moustakas followed soon to play the hot corner, while Johnny Giavotella just came up to man second.

Greinke, a former Royal, faced Hosmer in a rehab start in April and remarked that it was like facing a 10-year veteran.

“You probably know this,” Greinke told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. “But Eric Hosmer is really good. I mean, really good.”

Greinke is now with the Brewers, a team Mellinger says could be how the Royals look like in a few years if and when their young pitching prospects start bearing fruit.

The offense seems to have it all -- two defensive linchpins in Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, home-run threats in Hosmer and Moustakas, and a capable bat in Giavotella. And we haven't even talked about the resurgent Alex Gordon in left field, or the fine season that Melky Cabrera has turned in. Yep, baseball in K.C. is looking sharp.

Going yard: The 1,000th career hit for Jeff Francouer was a home run. "He told us he was going to get it in his first at-bat and he did, he didn't mess around with it," manager Ned Yost told MLB.com.

Baby giraffe: Brandon Belt has gained a nickname -- that of "Baby Giraffe." Well, he met the real thing when Six Flags Discovery Kingdom named its newborn giraffe after Belt, of which you can see pictures on Belt's blog. (A Veteran and a Rook)

MVP pitcher? Cole Hamels disagrees with my assessment that a pitcher should be eligible for -- and potentially win -- the MVP, calling the Cy Young Award the pitcher's version.

"We only play once every five days and I don’t know how much we can affect a team by winning all 33 or 34 starts because you still have to win 90 something games to make the postseason," Hamels told the Dan Patrick Show, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. You need an everyday player to really go out there and play 140 to 150 games to really be a sorta MVP candidate.”

My comeback? Don't look at games played. Look at at-bats. A hitter will generally receive roughly 600 plate appearances a year, while a pitcher will face a few hundred more hitters over the course of a season. Position players may play in significantly more games, but pitchers impact the games they pitch in far more than a hitter. It all balances out.

Bryce running: Bryce Harper, on the disabled list for Double-A, ran for the first time since straining his hamstringo on Thursday. The team is hopeful he can participate in the minor-league postseason. (Washington Post)

Baseball in the Netherlands: The Dutch look to be in prime position to host a baseball game in 2014, with the Netherlands preparing to submit a bid for a game to be played in Hoofddorp, a small city outside of Amsterdam. You don't hear much about baseball and the Netherlands, but interestingly enough, it's considered "the baseball powerhouse of Europe," Alex Remington writes. (Fangraphs)

Walk angry: Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a called strike to end the Yankees-Red Sox game on Thursday, with New York coming away with a victory after Mariano Rivera loaded the bases in the ninth inning. "That pitch was down, I should still be hitting. That's all I have to say," he told the Boston Globe. Maybe, but Gonzalez shouldn't have swung at two painfully obvious balls. For someone with his plate discipline, he sure looked antsy up at the plate.

Banged-up Sox: J.D. Drew's return to Boston figures to be delayed at least a week, but Kevin Youkilis could return as early as Friday. Another injured Sox player, Clay Buchholz, made 35 throws from 60 feet and reported no progress with his back. Buchholz's return may not happen until the playoffs, but if he can come back, it's a major shot in the arm. (Boston Globe)

Hobbled Yanks: Mark Teixeira had to leave Thursday's game with a bruised right knee after being hit by a pitch, and he looks as if he will miss a few games, the New York Post writes. Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, is hopeful he can rejoin the starting lineup on Friday but admitted he just isn't sure to the Post.

Big step: Adam Wainwright will throw his first bullpen session shortly after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The season is lost for the Cards right-hander, but he can get himself ready to go for the 2012 season. It's possible that if a St. Louis minor-league affiliate goes deep into the playoffs that he could make a rehab start before baseball shuts down. (MLB.com)

Under the knife: Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson will wrap up a disappointing year by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gibson was expected to win a rotation spot at some point during the year, but now Minnesota will have to cast its eye to 2013 for any significant production out of the first-rounder. (Minnesota Star Tribune)

Backpacking: A new trend is emerging in baseball as part of an old one. The junior member of a bullpen has always been expected to haul a bag full of snacks, drinks and pain medications to the bullpen. Lately, however, the bag has morphed into gear designed to embarrass the player -- a Hello Kitty backpack -- for example. The New York Times looks at the increasing trend.
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Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 12:47 am

Strasburg dominant in final rehab outing

By Matt Snyder

It has been more than a year, but the path is clear for another Strasmas in Washington. Pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg completed his rehab assignment Thursday night by giving Double-A Harrisburg an utterly dominant performance. Strasburg had a perfect game through four innings. A hits batsman was his only blemish in the fifth and in the sixth he worked around a double. The final line for the right hander: Six innings, one hit, zero walks, zero runs and four strikeouts. He threw 70 pitches, 53 of which were strikes (via MiLB.com). Reportedly, Strasburg's fastball topped out at 99 on the radar gun (Nathan Fenno on Twitter).

Basically, there's no reason to have him pitching against minor-leaguers any longer. And he's not going to.

Strasburg's comeback
Strasburg will start Tuesday for the Nationals against the Dodgers. It's a Washington home game, so expect one of the biggest crowds of the season to see his return. He'll be limited to 80 pitches or five innings (MASNsports.com), but don't expect that to tone down the electricity. Sure, it was only Double-A Thursday night, but Strasburg only needed 54 pitches to get through five innings.

In looking ahead at the schedule, assuming Strasburg stays on normal rest, here's what his remaining slate looks like:

Sept. 6, vs. Dodgers (Ted Lilly)
Sept. 11, vs. Astros (Henry Sosa)
Sept. 16, vs. Marlins
Sept. 21, at Phillies
Sept. 26, at Marlins

Those three home games will be a box office smash for the Nationals and it appears Strasburg will have four very winnable games along with a big measuring stick -- on the road against the best team in the majors.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com