To the surprise of absolutely no one who has watched pitch Stephen Strasburg fall apart in his last few starts, the Washington Nationals have placed their All Star pitcher on the 15-day disabled list due to soreness in his throwing elbow.
Strasburg was one of the best pitchers in the Majors until this month, when he sported a gaudy 15-1 record to go with his 2.63 ERA. However, in his last three starts, Strasburg is 0-3 with a 14.66 ERA, with hitters posting a .414/.462/.776 line against him in that time.
Obviously, Strasburg has a history with injuries, but early reports are that he has not suffered a structural injury and the team is confident he can return to action relatively soon.
Source: Strasburg elbow issue is not structural. #Nationals being pro-active with DL stint to get right for stretch/playoffs.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 22, 2016
For now, 24-year-old A.J. Cole will take Strasburg’s place in the rotation. He’s 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 22 Triple-A starts, so he’s certainly a downgrade from what Strasburg was until this month.
Fortunately, the Nationals have an 8.5 game lead in the National League East right now, so their lead is safe and the chances they will win the division are pretty close to 100 percent.
The important thing is that Strasburg recover entirely for the playoffs. A healthy Stras would allow the team to field a Max Scherzer/Stephen Strasburg/Tanner Roark rotation in the postseason, which is as good as any in the Majors. However, if Stras is not back to form, the team might have to rely on someone like the very-incosistent Gio Gonzalez [who cannot seem to last more than six innings even in his better starts] or Lucas Giolito or Joe Ross, if he’s healthy by then.
Get well, Stephen.