Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg to undergo MRI after experiencing reduced velocity vs. Braves


Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will undergo an MRI on Wednesday after departing from his Tuesday start against the Atlanta Braves in the second inning. Strasburg technically exited after being struck by a comebacker, but the real area of concern was his reduced velocity caused by a tight trapezius, according to Maria Torres of The Athletic

Strasburg, who was seen shaking his arm after his second pitch of the night, was visited by Nationals manager Davey Martinez, as well as the team trainer, after he issued a four-pitch walk to begin his outing. Per Statcast’s data, Strasburg’s fastball clocked in at 89.9 mph on average — or about two clicks below his seasonal norm. The rest of his arsenal also showed reduced velocity, and he generated just two whiffs on nine swings before he was lifted.

Strasburg, 33 come July, has had a rough season. In five starts, he’s compiled a 4.57 ERA (85 ERA+) and a 1.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Should he require a stint on the injured list, it’ll be his second this season: he was sidelined for more than a month, spanning parts of April and May, because of shoulder inflammation. He also was limited to a pair of appearances in 2020 before being shut down because of right carpal tunnel neuritis. 

Those injuries have robbed Strasburg of the momentum he achieved in 2019, when he finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting and he capped a sensational postseason by winning the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. That October, he threw 36 innings across six appearances (five of them starts) while sporting a 1.98 ERA and a 47-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Strasburg’s dominance resulted in the Nationals signing him to a seven-year contract worth $245 million.

If Strasburg does require more time on the shelf, it’s unclear who the Nationals will have take his next start (scheduled for Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies). The logical replacement, Erick Fedde, has been on the COVID-IL since May 19. He’s expected to make a rehab start on Thursday, but that timing leaves him a few days off Strasburg’s throwing schedule. The Nationals do have an off day on Monday, which should help them work out the kinks.

The Nationals entered Wednesday with a 22-29 record on the year, good for last place in the National League East. They trail the first-place New York Mets by six games.

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