Although it made no difference in how the National League East race played out, having Stephen Strasburg miss the end of the season hurt.
Before the flexor mass strain ended his 2016, Strasburg went 15-4 with a WHIP of 1.104. When healthy, he won his first 13 decisions and dominated. Washington, Strasburg and Scott Boras hammered out an unexpected seven-year contract extension, securing his place in D.C. for years to come.
The contract was the largest ever issued to a pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery.
The Nationals have to be leery on what Strasburg can give them in 2017. Yes, he will skip the World Baseball Classic and focus on returning Washington to the playoffs. In the back of everyone’s mind, durability creeps in. Twice in seven seasons has he pitched over 30 starts a year. Once, he topped 200 innings.
The last two years, he missed around 16 starts. You cannot count on Washington winning the division by almost 10 games again. If Rizzo and company are unsure they can get a 30-start season out of Strasburg, then you know why rumors of another good starter are rampant.
Strasburg was missed in the playoffs. As in 2012, you never know what might have happened if he made his scheduled start Yet, the playoff aftermath is bigger than one pitcher.