Stephen Strasburg’s Days as the Nationals Ace are Over

Could this be the beginning of the end for Stephen Strasburg? After making just one start the Nationals have placed him back on the IL due to “discomfort.” He underwent an MRI – results are pending.

Strasburg got a delayed start to the season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome late June. This is a career-threatening injury. While many pitchers try to return, a majority are never the same. Thoracic outlet syndrome, or TOC, means that blood vessels or nerves in the thoracic outlet are compressed. This location is at the first rib near the collarbone and shoulder. It leads to numbness, pain and tingling from the shoulder down into the fingers, making it difficult to pitch.

There aren’t many examples of other pitchers to undergo this surgery, but the player comparisons aren’t too promising. Given Strasburg’s age (33) and injury history, there’s little reason to believe that the can bounce back and be a reliable starter this season.

Here’s a recap of his major injuries throughout his MLB career:

2021: TOC surgery

2020: carpal tunnel surgery

2018: right shoulder inflammation, cervical nerve impingement

2016: upper back strain, dislocated ribs, right elbow soreness, partially torn pronator tendon

2015: left ankle sprain, back soreness, oblique strain

2010: Tommy John surgery

Clearly Strasburg’s arm has been through a lot. Even if the latest MRI is technically clean, his body is at a point where it can’t handle the workload required to be a consistently solid MLB starter.


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