Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg To Make His Season Debut Tonight

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals is awarded MVP after his teams 6-2 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals is awarded MVP after his teams 6-2 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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After missing over a year, “Strasmas” is back.

When Stephen Strasburg signed a seven-year extension with Washington worth $245 million back in December of 2019, no one expected him to only throw 26 2/3 innings since. Yet the same issue that had plagued him throughout the beginning of his career has resurfaced — injuries.

He earned his extension after a dominant World Series performance. He went 2-0, with a 2.51 ERA, and 14 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings, culminating in him being named 2019 World Series MVP.  He finished the Nats’ 2019 World Series run 5-0, with a 1.98 ERA and 47 strikeouts in six appearances (five starts).

The most hyped pitching prospect of all time, he’s always struggled to stay healthy — undergoing Tommy John surgery during his rookie year in 2010. He only made two starts in 2020 before missing the rest of the season due to carpal tunnel surgery. The 2021 season saw him only make five starts before he underwent season-ending surgery to alleviate neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.

This past off-season, Washington took it slow with their ace, easing him back into the thick of things. That decision has seemed to pay off with Strasburg set to make his 2022 season debut against the Miami Marlins tonight– having missed over a year now as he recovers from last season’s surgery.

He made three rehab starts at A+ and AAA to mixed results. In his first start, it was obvious he needed to rub the dust off — walking four and allowing three runs across 2 2/3 innings. But in his last two starts, he threw 11 shutout innings, allowing one hit and walking two, while striking out 10.

Washington’s rotation has seen better days — ranking dead last in ERA and in drastic need of reinforcements. Joan Adon is last in the MLB in ERA and was recently sent down to AAA. Erick Fedde has shown promise, but is still unable to take the next step. Josiah Gray just needs experience, throwing five shutout innings with six strikeouts against the Marlins in his last start — while Patrick Corbin has continued to regress.

In his last full season back in 2019, Strasburg went 18-6, with a 3.32 ERA, 251 strikeouts, and a 3.25 FIP in 209 innings. The Nats’ current rotation lacks innings eaters, ranking as a team 20th in innings pitched (279) and while he needs to build back to full strength, Washington will befit greatly from Strasburg’s presence on the mound.

Strasburg threw 83 pitches across six innings in his last start and is set to go as far as he can.

“I’m not going to put any limitations on him,” Martinez said.

Before the season started, Washington expected to get 20-25 starts from the 33-year-old and he is projected to make around 20 appearances.

“We’ll see how far we can take him,” Martinez said. “We’ll keep a close eye on him, but this is one of the reasons why we wanted him to go through what he did and to make sure that he’s fully ready.”

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