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Strasburg returns to DL after throwing one start

Right-hander dealing with pinched nerve in neck
MLB.com @JamalCollier

MIAMI -- Each time it seems like the Nationals are getting healthier and closer to having their team at full strength, another injury seems to pop up in this trying 2018 season. The latest blow struck right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was scratched from his start Thursday night and placed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to Sunday) with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Strasburg came to manager Dave Martinez's office the day prior to tell him about the injury, a surprising turn of events considering he was just activated from the DL six days ago to start this past Friday. Strasburg did not join the club in Miami and instead flew to Los Angeles to visit a neurologist.

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MIAMI -- Each time it seems like the Nationals are getting healthier and closer to having their team at full strength, another injury seems to pop up in this trying 2018 season. The latest blow struck right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was scratched from his start Thursday night and placed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to Sunday) with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Strasburg came to manager Dave Martinez's office the day prior to tell him about the injury, a surprising turn of events considering he was just activated from the DL six days ago to start this past Friday. Strasburg did not join the club in Miami and instead flew to Los Angeles to visit a neurologist.

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Video: WSH@MIA: Nats' booth on Strasburg going on the DL

Until then, Martinez could not say whether this issue was related to any previous neck issues Strasburg has experienced -- that landed him on the DL in 2015 -- nor could the Nats' manager provide a timetable for Strasburg's return.

"It's tough because he's one of our horses," Martinez said Thursday. "Even though we have a few, losing him is not the best-case scenario."

It is certainly not the best-case scenario, because the Nationals have lost one of their best pitchers at a time when they are seven games out and in third place in the National League East, desperately trying to climb back into the race. Strasburg, who is 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA, had missed more than a month with right shoulder inflammation before returning to start last Friday night against the Braves. Strasburg also had an MRI on his right shoulder, although the results came back clean.

However, Strasburg surrendered six runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in that start, the kind of rare and uncharacteristic poor outing from him that usually foreshadows an injury, but the team chalked it up to rust in his first Major League game in more than a month. Then, as he left the mound, Strasburg became involved in an argument with fellow pitcher Max Scherzer in the dugout, enough to warrant a 15-minute meeting between the two in Martinez's office afterward.

Video: ATL@WSH: Scherzer, Strasburg have heated moment

In Strasburg's place, the Nationals promoted left-hander Tommy Milone from Triple-A Syracuse to start tonight against the Marlins. The 31-year-old Milone, who was with the Nats in Spring Training, has made 20 starts for Syracuse, posting a 7-4 record and 4.19 ERA with 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings, as well as a 1.50 ERA and .155 opponents' batting average over his last four starts.

"He's been pitching really well," Martinez said of Milone. "Using his fastballs, changeup, his out pitch. They said he's been throwing the ball really well. Really well. Throwing a lot of strikes. So I'm looking forward to watching him pitch and, like I said, hopefully he keeps us in the game."

Infielder Jose Marmolejos was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Milone, who was signed as a free agent last offseason. The lefty was drafted by the Nationals in 2008 and made five starts for them in '11 before being traded to Oakland.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg