Posted on June 26, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Stephen Strasburg will not make his scheduled start with the Washington Nationals on Sunday due to an upper back strain, the second time in less than a week he’s been scratched from a start due to back issues. Washington manager Dusty Baker made the announcement after the team’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday night. It was Washington’s seventh straight loss. Strasburg was also scratched at the last minute from his last scheduled start on Monday. Tanner Roark will start for the Nationals against Milwaukee on Sunday. Roark was schedule to pitch Monday, but will be throwing on regular rest.
“He’s on day-to-day,” Baker said about Strasburg Saturday night. “He went down to warm up, and felt it again in the same area.” Strasburg was on pace to make his start after a light bullpen session on Friday, but he felt pain again in his back while warming up prior to Saturday’s game. Baker did not give a timetable on Strasburg, nor did he comment on whether the team would place him on the DL. At this point, the DL may be a safe bet seeing as how he hasn’t pitched since June 15, so with a back date Strasburg could be eligible to return in less than a week.
Strasburg says the back pain is a result of dislocating two ribs while lifting weights last weekend. “It was some kind of freak thing that must have gone on in the weight room,” Strasburg said Friday when he was still expecting to make his start on Sunday. “I really don’t know why. It kind of threw everything out of sync. I’m not really used to having too many ribs pop out all the time, but I guess when they do, I’ve had all the symptoms.” At the time, he pronounced himself fine after popping the two ribs back into place.
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Despite his confidence earlier in the week that he’d be able to pitch, Strasburg also expressed his concern about rushing back and hurting himself further, which he did last year when he tried to pitch through an ankle injury that ended up having a negative affect on his mechanics. “I don’t think you want any injury to happen. But I think the way it did, I just know that I don’t want to make the same mistake I did last year. Number one go out there and pitch not right, and not help the team to the best of my ability. And number two, potentially be out for a long period of time,” Strasburg said on Friday. “I just wanted to try and nip it in the bud. I feel like it’s going in the right direction.”
If Strasburg ends up on the DL, he will join Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals have struggled at the end of games since Papelbon went to the DL on June 13, contributing to the team’s current seven game losing streak. Having Strasburg miss two starts hasn’t helped either. Washington’s lead atop the NL East has now diminished to just two games over the New York Mets and three games over the Miami Marlins. Losing Strasburg to the DL will only make it harder for the Nationals to get things moving in the right direction again, especially with a three-game series against the Mets on the schedule starting Monday.