Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters (including Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post) that Stephen Strasburg will land on the 15-day injured list prior to tomorrow’s game against the Braves. The team hasn’t specified a diagnosis, and Martinez only noted that Strasburg was headed for an MRI after experiencing some discomfort following a bullpen session over the weekend.
The team will no doubt provide more context whenever the results of the imaging come back, but there’s evidently no chance for him to suit up within the next two weeks regardless of the specific diagnosis. Needless to say, it’s a disheartening development considering Strasburg’s injury history of late. He missed almost all of the abbreviated 2020 campaign because of carpal tunnel syndrome, then spent most of last year on the shelf with shoulder and neck irritation.
Last season’s injuries culminated in a July surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. That ended his season and kept him out for the first couple months of this year. Washington gradually built him back up to game readiness, giving him a trio of minor league rehab starts before activating him from the IL to make his first MLB outing of the season last Thursday.
Strasburg didn’t pitch well in his debut, surrendering seven runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Marlins. He averaged just north of 90 MPH on his fastball, per Statcast, down about two ticks from last season’s mark and more than three MPH softer than his 2019 average. The three-time All-Star clearly wasn’t at peak form, but he came out of the appearance expressing optimism about his health after getting back onto the mound. Unfortunately, he’s now dealing with another setback, the extent of which is still to be determined.
A career-long member of the organization since being drafted first overall in 2009, Strasburg is among the most accomplished players in franchise history. He posted an ERA of 3.74 or lower in eight consecutive years between 2012-19, a run that culminated in a 3.32 ERA across 209 innings during the 2019 season. Strasburg was excellent during the postseason to help Washington claim a World Series title, and the Nats re-signed him to a seven-year, $245MM free agent deal the following winter.
Strasburg has made just eight MLB starts in the two-plus years since signing that deal. The right-hander turns 34 years old next month, and he’s under contract for $35MM annually through the 2026 campaign.