Report: Strasburg further set back with 'severe nerve damage'

June 4th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- For every game that passes in the Nationals’ 2023 season, the questions of ’s return to the mound loom larger. The veteran right-hander, who was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 30 because of thoracic outlet syndrome, has suffered another setback in his recovery.

Strasburg, 34, has not been able to participate in his rehabilitation for over a month, and he experienced “severe nerve damage,” according to Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post.

The 2019 World Series MVP has not appeared in a game since June 9, 2022.

“Everything’s still the same; he’s shut down right now from baseball activity,” manager Dave Martinez said on Sunday. “I know he’s working hard. I can’t say exactly what the outcome’s going to be, I really can’t. But I know that it’s been frustrating for him, and it’s been an ongoing deal. So for me, I wish Stephen the best in no matter what happens moving forward. I just want him to get healthy.”

After becoming a postseason hero and signing a seven-year, $245 million contract in December of 2019, Strasburg has been limited to a total of 31 1/3 innings. Carpal tunnel surgery on his right hand ended his ‘20 season after two outings, and he made five starts in ‘21 before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery that July.

Strasburg fought back to pitch 4 2/3 innings in Miami last season, but he was placed on the 15-day IL five days later because of stress reaction of the ribs.

Strasburg eyed a comeback season this winter. He built up to throwing bullpens, but he experienced a nerve issue after a second session and was sidelined again. Strasburg did not join the team in West Palm Beach, Fla., and he remained in the Washington, D.C., area to seek further medical attention.

“He’s put the time in, that’s for sure,” Martinez said at the time. “I know in his heart he wants to pitch, and I can’t wait until the day that if he does pitch, that he’s going to come back and pitch for us. I know the fans want to see him pitch again. But at this point, it’s just health-related, and it’s the same thing -- it’s the nerve that’s bothered him.”

Strasburg has not been with the Nationals at home or on the road for games this season. He did not join the team for Opening Day ceremonies, either, because he did not want to be a distraction. At that time, Strasburg was not doing any baseball related activities.

“There is a rehab process, and right now the process is just simple rest until he regains strength and mobility,” general manager Mike Rizzo said on Opening Day.

Strasburg attempted rehab activities in April, per Dougherty, but he experienced pain and discomfort -- including numbness, pain and tingling -- that led to another shutdown that month. According to Dougherty, Strasburg is looking to determine whether he can manage his nerve issues for another comeback push.

In Strasburg’s absence, the Nationals have turned to a starting rotation of left-hander Patrick Corbin, right-hander Josiah Gray, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, right-hander Trevor Williams and right-hander Jake Irvin. Right-hander Chad Kuhl also made five starts before moving to the bullpen following an IL stint.

The first overall pick by Washington in the 2009 Draft, Strasburg has thrown a total of 1,470 innings across 247 starts with the Nationals. He holds a 113-62 record and a 3.24 ERA in 13 seasons. Strasburg became the first pitcher to go 5-0 in the postseason in the ‘19 World Series run.