Stephen Strasburg is still struggling to stay healthy.
The Washington Nationals placed their No. 2 starter on the disabled list following Saturday’s 7-5 win against the San Francisco Giants with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Strasburg says he’s been dealing with the issue for a few weeks. He was removed after laboring through two challenging innings in Friday’s loss to San Francisco.
An MRI Saturday revealed no structural damage to Strasburg’s shoulder. That’s obviously good news. Still, the team couldn’t provide a timeline for Strasburg’s return.
Many of the Nationals beat writers noticed that the former No. 1 draft pick didn’t look comfortable during Friday’s outing, particularly while warming up for the second inning. Those concerns only grew as the Giants offense continually squared up Strasburg.
Lingering health concerns
Nationals fans and beat writers have been expressing concerns about Strasburg’s health as far back as May 12.
This is not an "I-told-you-so," but rather context: I was paranoid he was hurt as early as last month in Arizona. Just hasn't looked right. Maybe this is a new thing. But he hasn't been himself in awhile.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) June 8, 2018
The outing Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes is referencing took place on May 12. Strasburg was pretty good that day, striking out nine batters while allowing just one walk. He surrendered five hits and allowed one run over 6.2 innings. The concerns then stemmed from Strasburg struggling to get loose in the early innings, much the same way he seemed to struggle Friday.
In his most recent outing against the Atlanta Braves on June 1, Strasburg was removed in the seventh inning with what the team termed a forearm cramp in his non-throwing arm. The report wasn’t exactly ominous, but the circumstances surrounding the exit still raised a few red flags. Strasburg had thrown 107 pitches on the night, and was nearly untouchable until allowing four runs in his final frame.
Beyond that, Washington gave Strasburg a couple extra days of rest before making his start on Friday. That’s not necessarily unusual, but it understandably didn’t ease concerns either.
Despite the health issues, Strasburg entered Friday’s game with a 3.20 ERA in 78.2 innings.
Strasburg’s extensive injury history
Given Strasburg’s lengthy injury history, one can’t really blame Nationals fans for being worried.
One month after his memorable 14-strikeout MLB debut in 2010, Strasburg landed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. One month after that, he was diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. Strasburg returned to make five starts in 2011. He started 28 games during the 2012 season before the Nationals made the controversial decision to shut him down before the postseason.
Whether that decision ultimately worked is still open to debate. What we know is that other ailments have developed and cost Strasburg extensive time.
In 2013, Strasburg landed on the disabled list in June with a mild lat strain.
In 2015, Strasburg was sidelined for one month by an upper back pain that he believed stemmed from overcompensating for a spring training ankle injury. One month after returning, he missed another month with an oblique strain. Over the last two seasons, Strasburg has been limited to 52 starts after battling back issues and right elbow soreness.
Needless to say, it’s been a constant battle to keep Strasburg on the field. When he’s been healthy, he’s been the dominant pitcher we all envisioned during his rise at San Diego State. But his lack of durability has limited his true potential.
Here’s hoping Strasburg’s latest ailment is one he can quickly overcome.
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