WASHINGTON -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said it would be unlikely for Stephen Strasburg to be ready to pitch in the National League Division Series.
Strasburg, who has been sidelined with a strained flexor mass in his right arm, threw on flat ground from about 90 feet on Tuesday. The right-hander still has a ways to go get on the mound for even a bullpen session, let alone starting a game in the NLDS, with Game 1 against the Dodgers set for next Friday.
"I think it would be kind of pushing it," Rizzo said. "I think that's fair to say. Again, I haven't seen him after he did his throwing program today, but just the calendar, it's unlikely that he'd contribute in that first series."
Strasburg's return this season has been uncertain ever since he walked off the mound in clear discomfort on Sept. 7 and was diagnosed with the injury a day later. In the three weeks since, he has only done some light throwing and has yet to throw off a mound. The Nationals have always handled Strasburg with care, but especially after they signed him to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May.
It leaves Washington almost certainly without one its aces for the NLDS, after Strasburg posted a 15-4 record with a 3.60 ERA and 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 24 starts. Perhaps if the Nationals can get past the Dodgers, it could open the door for a Strasburg return.
Washington will also likely have to get past the Dodgers using four starters, after manager Dusty Baker did not sound too excited by the idea of using Max Scherzer, who almost certainly will start Game 1, on short rest unless it was a "dire emergency."
"I'd like not to do that on short rest because then what's going to happen next round and the next round?" Baker said. "He's going to be on super short and then you're risking injury. The other guys got to do their job. I can't stress that enough. You can beat one horse to death and then what? You're still stuck with the other horses. You've got to spread the workload around and everybody's got to earn their keep and everybody's got to earn their money."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.