Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg’s injury worrisome

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CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 17: Stephen Strasburg
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 17: Stephen Strasburg /
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Potentially losing Stephen Strasburg for any serious time could not have happened at a worst time for the Washington Nationals.

The Washington Nationals find themselves in a pickle.

Yes, the sight of Stephen Strasburg grimacing while flexing his pitching forearm sent shivers up the spine of fans from Richmond to College Park. Despite another successful road trip, taking six of seven from Cincinnati and Arizona, the major storyline heading back home is yet another potential injury.

If the Nats started the regular season with two concerns, bullpen and overall depth. We know how inconsistent the pen is. Now, the depth of Washington is undergoing a stress test.

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As the Nats hold a 12-game bulge over the Atlanta Braves in the weak National League East, the division race is all but over. If the Braves go into the meat of trade deadline week as sellers, there is not a team in the division capable of catching Washington.

With a bullpen that defies description and serious injuries in the field, the team still scores at will and will return to the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history. As Adam Eaton, Jayson Werth, Trea Turner and Michael Taylor nurse aches and pains, Wilmer Difo started in left field Sunday. The ease of the Nats apparent divisional crown is stunning.

Losing multiple starters is equally stunning.

If there was one position where the Nats had no margin of error, it is the starters. When Joe Ross went down to Tommy John surgery, it hurt. The fifth starter on an October-bound team, Ross’ lost will be truly felt next season as he rehabs the arm.

The potential of losing Strasburg runs much deeper. Hopefully, this is a case of not fully loosening before a start as the team claims. As MASN replayed him stretching and making a fist with the forearm, the first public look gave an impression of a bigger issue.

As it stands, Washington has three potential areas where a trade might happen.

Without a true closer, the prospects are there to grab someone like AJ Ramos or Raisel Iglesias if the price is right. Steep as it will be in prospects, the Nats would be foolish not to continue pursue one if it makes sense.

Another outfielder to cover depth would not hurt. Chris Heisey landed back on the disabled list Sunday. Difo is not a true starting option and Brian Goodwin is struggling at the plate. Werth has yet to run with his broken foot. Taylor’s return is written in ether and Eaton will be back next February. Goodwin and Ryan Raburn have exceeded expectations, but depth is an issue.

When Ross went down, Edwin Jackson got the nod to fill his spot. Erick Fedde is next out of the chute, but they are not layoff starters. If Strasburg misses any chunk of time, then it turns into a real possibility. Would the Nats enter the Sonny Gray derby?

What about Lance Lynn or Yu Darvish? If you hear these names and the Nats in the same sentence over the next week, be worried about Strasburg. You do not chase mid-rotation starters to replace Ross.

Next: Road success big for Nats October

The rollercoaster ride is not over. Not by a longshot.

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