Stephen Strasburg underwent surgery to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome in his right hand earlier today, Nationals manager Dave Martinez tells reporters (Twitter link via Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington). Surgery was already known to be in store for Strasburg, who was placed on the 45-day injured list over the weekend. He’ll be out for the remainder of the 2020 season. The team has yet to provide a timeline for his recovery, though the hope is that he’ll be ready to go in 2021.
The 32-year-old Strasburg appeared in just two games this year and has otherwise been shelved by ongoing issues in his right hand. He was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome a bit more than a week ago and, after visiting with a specialist late last week, made the decision on Saturday to undergo surgery.
The absence of Strasburg has surely played a role in a pedestrian season for the Nats, who currently sit at 11-16, placing them last in the National League East. Washington, of course, famously rallied from a dismal start to the 2019 season as well, but if they’re to enjoy a similar Cinderella tale in 2020, they’ll need to do so without the help of last year’s World Series MVP.
With Strasburg sidelined, the Nats have been leaning on a combination of Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez, Austin Voth and Erick Fedde as their primary starters. Scherzer has had some uncharacteristic struggles but still posted passable results, but each of Sanchez (6.48 ERA), Voth (6.65) and Fedde (5.11) has struggled considerably. There’s no indication yet as to how the Nats plan to proceed at this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline, but considering the fact that virtually the entire National League (Pittsburgh excluded) is within two and a half games of a Wild Card spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Washington pursue some affordable rotation upgrades — both to bolster its hopes in 2020 and perhaps to reinforce the staff in subsequent campaigns.
Martinez also revealed Wednesday that lefty Seth Romero, the Nationals’ first-round pick from 2017 who made his MLB debut earlier this year, will undergo surgery to place a pin his fractured right hand (Twitter link via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post). Martinez explained recently that Romero suffered the fracture when he slipped on some stairs and braced for the fall with his right hand. While it’s fortunate for his long-term outlook that the injury wasn’t in his pitching hand, the procedure seems likely to end Romero’s season.
The 24-year-old Romero allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings over three appearances in his first taste of the Majors. He’d missed much of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season due to an elbow injury that ultimately required Tommy John surgery. To this point, Romero has still thrown only 50 professional innings.