Washington Nationals veteran right-hander Stephen Strasburg hasn't seen game action at the highest level since June of last year, and there's still no timetable for a possible return to the big-league rotation. As Jesse Dougherty reports, Strasburg has been shut down from all physical activity and is dealing with "severe nerve damage."
Strasburg, who turns 35 in July, has been waylaid by injury concerns since winning World Series MVP honors in 2019. Not long after that championship season, the Nats signed him to a seven-year, $245 million extension that runs through 2026 season. Since then, however, Strasburg has managed just eight starts and 31 1/3 innings for Washington. Over that span, he's registered an ERA of 6.89.
His issues began with a case of carpal tunnel neuritis in his pitching hand in August 2020. Then came shoulder inflammation followed by a neck strain. In August 2021, Strasburg underwent surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, an at times baffling condition that has the potential to end pitching careers. His potential recovery was then compromised by a stress reaction in his ribcage and then, in March of this year, a recurrence of thoracic outlet syndrome. Now nerve issues have once again complicated his efforts to return to the major-league mound, and at this point it's fair to wonder whether Strasburg will ever pitch again. Whatever the path forward, he's owed the balance of a $35 million salary for this season, and then he's still owed a total of $105 million from 2024 through 2026.
Strasburg dealt with arm problems earlier in his career, but he was able to overcome them and establish himself as a frontline contributor for the Nats. Across parts of 13 seasons, he boasts an ERA of 3.24 (127) with a K/BB ratio of 4.37 and a record of 113-62. He's also a three-time All-Star who on three occasions has finished in the top 10 of the National League Cy Young vote. Regardless of how his career ends, it's been a very good one. The hope for Strasburg and the Nats is that it's not over. This latest news, however, very much raises the unfortunate possibility that it is.