It looks like Davey Johnson will get his wish.
From Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post comes word that the Nationals have decided to give right-hander Stephen Strasburg two more starts before the end of the 2011 season. The first will come this Friday night against the Wild Card-leading Braves. The second will be in the Nats’ season finale versus the Marlins on Wednesday, September 28.
Strasburg was originally scheduled to be shut down after Friday’s home start against Atlanta because the Nationals’ season finale is in south Florida and the club does not stand to make a significant profit. But the 23-year-old starter has displayed no signs of weakness or discomfort since returning from Tommy John surgery and should be able to put together two more outings with his prized right arm still intact.
Strasburg has posted a 1.29 ERA and 11/0 K/BB ratio in 14 innings since returning in early September.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.