On Wednesday, the Washington Nationals will complete a series against the New York Mets, with Stephen Strasburg scheduled to pitch … hold on. Scratch that.
The 24-year-old ace will instead be sitting in the Nationals’ dugout after the team told Strasburg he would not pitch again this season to preserve his right arm that underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction — also known as Tommy John surgery — on Sept. 3, 2010.
Normal recovery time is 12 to 18 months, so there are people who understand Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo’s decision to cut short Strasburg’s first full season back, even though Washington sits atop the National League East standings with an 86-54 record and 5 1/2-game lead over second-place Atlanta.
Strasburg, understandably, is peeved at the decision as he boasts a 15-6 record and 3.16 earned-run average, which is third in the NL, while his 197 strikeouts over 159 1/3 innings rank second. "I feel physically great. That’s the thing," he says.
But, Strasburg only pitched 44 1/3 innings in 2011 between the major leagues and minors, which may have played as much or more into Rizzo’s decision than the Tommy John surgery.
And speaking of Tommy John, the original Tommy John surgery patient in 1974, he pitched 207 innings in 1976, his first season back after having his 1975 campaign wiped out. John went on to top 200 or more innings the next four seasons and didn’t miss a start the final 13-plus years of his career following surgery.
Strasburg, meanwhile, won’t take the mound at Citi Field in New York Wednesday. He’ll give way to lefty John Lannan, who had a 4.30 ERA in 24 starts with AAA Syracuse this season and was the subject of trade rumours earlier in the summer.
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