July 23: The Nats are now backing down Strasburg’s throwing program after continued discomfort in his neck, Martinez announced to reporters (Twitter link via MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman). It’s possible he’ll see another specialist before the team determines next steps.
July 17: Stephen Strasburg has encountered a setback in his recovery from nerve irritation in his neck, as the Nationals righty continued to feel discomfort in his neck while pitching a simulated game on July 9. As manager Davey Martinez told The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty and other reporters, Strasburg threw on flat ground prior to tonight’s game, and also threw on Friday.
The fact that Strasburg is still throwing is a good sign, and perhaps indicative that this latest issue could ultimately end up being pretty minor. That said, Strasburg was placed on the injured list on June 2, and it doesn’t bode well that he is still feeling soreness after over six weeks. It isn’t clear when Strasburg’s recovery might kick back into higher gear (such as a minor league rehab assignment), as Martinez made it clear that the team wants to fully correct the injury problem. “When Stephen comes back, I want him to come back and finish the season on the mound and not have this recurrence again,” Martinez said.
Between this absence and an earlier IL stint due to shoulder inflammation, Strasburg has tossed only 21 2/3 innings this season. Due to Strasburg being sidelined by carpal tunnel syndrome for much of the 2020 season, he has pitched only 26 2/3 total frames since the start of the 2020 campaign, and since the right-hander inked a seven-year, $245MM free agent contract to return to Washington.
While Strasburg is far from the only Nats player to be waylaid by injuries over the last two seasons, his contract and his importance to the starting rotation make him stand out as a particular reason why the Nats have had trouble stringing wins together since their 2019 World Series victory. A five-game losing streak has now dropped the D.C. squad to 42-48 for the season, and while things remain close in the NL East, more losses could potentially send the Nationals pivoting towards selling some veterans at the trade deadline.