Nats Face Big Decision on Strasburg

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, August 23, 2010 | , | 0 comments »

The results of Stephen Strasburg's MRI will be known today. (Photo by C. Nichols/Nats News Network)
Pitchers get hurt.  It's not just old baseball axiom, it's the truth.  It just really sucks when it happens to a guy who hasn't even made a dozen starts in his career.

Sometime today, whether its earlier or in Manager Jim Riggleman's press conference before tonight's game, we should get more information about the results of the MRI taken on Stephen Strasburg's right arm.  At that point, we'll all have a much better basis to form an opinion of what to do with the phenom.

The injury was initially diagnosed as a flexor tendon strain, which is a catch-all for any number of maladies.  There could be problems from the elbow through the forearm into the wrist.  Or there could be nothing.  The public just doesn't have enough information yet, so any specualtion you may have seen not specifically citing team doctors is rubbish.

Strasburg did his normal post-start routine yesterday, including throwing in the outfield before heading to D.C. to have the MRI and meet with doctors.  The assumption there is that he wasn't feeling any pain, and if he's done real damage having him play light toss isn't going to make matters any worse.  And he reportedly got though the session with no porblems.

But pain-free doesn't automatically mean injury-free.

If the MRI comes back clean, the Nats will be tempted to just let Strasburg continue the path he was on, pitching every five days until he reaches his innings limit.  They could skip a start to let whatever flared up to "calm down", or send him right back out there.  At some point, Strasburg ig going to have to pitch with discomfort. 

Discomfort is different than injury though, and the Nats are rightly being cautious with a player that means so much to their future.  If anything shows up in the MRI -- anything -- the Nats would do well to shut him down and let nature take its course in recovery.

What happened Saturday night might be as simple as a pinched nerve, akin to banging your funny bone.  It's just not very funny when your ace pitcher does it on the mound.

Of course, if the MRI turns up something serious, we'll have plenty to talk about for the coming weeks as the Nats slog their way to 90 losses.

They need to look no further than the pitcher they will recall within days, Jordan Zimemrmann, to be reminded of how you can do everying "right" in handling a pitcher and still have him go down with injury.

So for now, let's let the doctors do thier work before we say "the Nats should do this" or "the Nats should do that."  There will be plenty of time for pundits to expound on the subject once the diagnosis actually comes in.