"They're going to treat him the way they treated Jordan Zimmermann. If you remember last year, Zimmermann was rearing to go by June.
We're probably not going to see Strasburg until September, but when we do, I expect him to pitch the same and dominate the way he did."
This makes total sense. I know there has been extra caution around Strasburg after his injury, likely because there is an odd of perception that his Tommy John surgery was a result of some sort of overuse. The bottom line is that the Nationals have, and will continue to handle his development and usage perfectly. They have absolutely aired on the side of caution both in terms of his development and his health.
Given that, I think the previous projections of him not returning until 2012 were premature, and maybe even emotionally driven. Those who are worried about him being the next Kerry Wood or Mark Prior are being a bit over-cautious. There is no question that the health of his arm is vital to the Nationals future, but the recovery period for this injury is not what it used to be. Jordan Zimmermann, who had the same surgery after getting injured last summer, was making minor league starts in July, and was even able to make seven starts in Washington before the season ended. If Strasburg begins his rehab even a month later than Zimmermann did (about the time difference in the injuries), it is doubtful that he will need to take as long as Jordan did to become effective again at a Major League level.
I think early to mid September is a very reasonable expectation for Strasburg's return, and what a way to get the fans excited for the much anticipated 2012 season. The club could decide that September is too late in the season, and that it might be wise to shut him down, but I see them putting him in Washington under limited innings to re-energize the fans.
The only real question is, who will get to Washington first, Bryce Harper or Strasburg?