Nationals

Stephen Strasburg’s 2020 season is over

Nationals

Stephen Strasburg’s season is over.

He will have surgery to fix carpal tunnel neuritis next week, which nagged him since Major League Baseball resumed in early July.

Strasburg made just two starts this season. One lasted into the fifth inning. The other went ⅔ of an inning. Now, he’s done after a wrist impingement was causing him to lose feeling in his right thumb. The Nationals’ $245 million starter could not fully feel the ball when trying to throw it. That’s problematic.

“He wants to get this right,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “He’s disappointed he couldn’t finish out the season. But I told him, let’s just get this fixed. He was hoping that maybe he could fight through this, but for me it doesn’t make any sense that he goes out there and tries to do what he did in his last outing. Let’s just get it fixed and hopefully, like I said, he comes back and helps us win in the future. He’s a huge part of the future.”

Strasburg was placed on the 60-day injured list Saturday to open a 40-man roster spot for Wil Crowe, who will make his major-league debut in the second game of a doubleheader against Miami in Nationals Park.

The Nationals do not know what caused Strasburg’s wrist problem. He began complaining of pain in the area, which led to general treatment, rest and Cortisone shots. He missed his first two starts of the year before taking the mound Aug. 9 in what would have been his third start. Missing two was a large blow in a season in which starting pitchers will make only 12 starts.

 

When he departed after his second start -- often flicking his hand on the mound before Martinez removed him -- the sensible course of action appeared to be shutting Strasburg down. He, and the Nationals, did that when they agreed to have surgery performed instead of just let him rest. Fear of compensation prompted the direct-relief route.

“My only concern is that he does anything to change his mechanics,” Martinez said. “That’s why we want to make sure we take this very slow. We want the wrist and thumb to heal after the surgery. From there, slowly but surely, bring him back so that nothing else goes wrong. We don’t want him changing mechanics.”

The organization’s expectation is for Strasburg to be 100 percent healed following next week’s surgery. He can then slowly progress toward being ready next February when spring training -- presumably -- starts mid-February in West Palm Beach.

His departure from the 2020 season opens an opportunity for Erick Fedde to continue in the rotation. It also leaves a giant gap for a team already struggling at 9-13, which has them tied for last place in the National League East at the start of play Saturday.