Stephen Strasburg Leaves Start Early

Dave Martinez, Erick Fedde, Jon Lester, Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Nationals manager Dave Martinez and Washington’s trainer visited with right-hander Stephen Strasburg after he began Tuesday night’s game with a four-pitch walk, and despite some obvious discomfort (noted by Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post), Strasburg stayed in the game. His fastball velocity was down to the point that his four-seamer was registering as a change-up, per Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com (via Twitter) who provides some spin rate evidence to back his claim.

Stras would ultimately leave the game early, though it took a 109.6 mph comebacker off the bat of William Contreras to get Strasburg out of the game. The underlying issue, however, was a tight trapezius muscle, noted the Athletic’s Maria Torres and others after the game. The Nats’ right-hander will have an MRI on Wednesday, but whatever the results, Strasburg is clearly not his usual self.

In the meantime, the Nats are running dangerously low on arms. They won Tuesday’s game, but they required seven pitchers to do so. Only Tanner Rainey and Kyle Finnegan were left in the pen by game’s end. Austin Voth earned the win, but in using 50 pitches to get through three innings, he likely rendered himself unavailable for Wednesday. Jon Lester was already scheduled to start Wednesday’s game on short rest, but now they’ll ask the veteran to give them some length as well.

Tomorrow was originally set up to be Erick Fedde’s start, but the Nats did not feel he was stretched out enough to come off the injured list, per Torres. Instead, Fedde will make a rehab start in Single-A on Thursday and prepare to join the Nats over the weekend, tweets Zuckerman. In the meantime, the Nats could choose to option Sam Clay, Wander Suero or Paolo Espino in order to bring up a fresh arm. All three have options remaining. Typically, Washington does not aggressively manage their organizational arms in this way, but given the state of the rotation, it would not be surprising to see them make some kind of move.