It could be argued that Stephen Strasburg was the best pitcher the Washington Nationals ever had. He was a strong force that helped the team to win their first World Series in franchise history and had always been consistent with his power in the team. But after the twilight run of 2019, Strasburg would only eight more times. He gave everything for a championship and with the Strasburg injury, it may not be worth it.
Strasburg is from San Diego and was drafted by the Nationals in 2009. He would shift around the minor league teams often. From Harrisburg to Syracuse, to Potomac and Hagerstown, he was never able to stay in the same place for the Nationals organization.
But in 2012 he finally started to become a regular in the Nationals lineup. In the same year, he became an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger. He would stay loyal to the Nationals for his whole career with him becoming a regular at the All-Star Game and even being nominated for the NL Cy Young Award. He was awarded with a lot of playoff experience with four appearances before 2019. However, no one could predict how much the Strasburg injury would derail his career.
The Golden Year
It wasn’t supposed to be perfect. 2019 started dark for the Nationals as they lost their biggest player, Bryce Harper after he signed in free agency with the Philadelphia Phillies. Without their star player, the Nationals didn’t look like they were going to contend. They even started the season horribly with being second last in the NL East with only the horrible Miami Marlins to trail them.
But that didn’t stop them or Strasburg from chasing the playoffs. Despite his consistency from prior seasons, he was showing career-high pitching in this year. The team rallied with him and would start an unforgettable hike in hopes of somehow clinching a playoff spot. Then, the impossible happened with the Nationals clinching the wild card spot.
Strasburg relieved in the first game against the Milwaukee Brewers in an all-or-nothing matchup. It was the first time in his career he relieved. The Nationals won the game 4-3 and went on to the next challenge. They beat the National League Regular Season Champions, Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2. After that, they cleaned up St. Lous Cardinals in only four games. Then their Cinderella run ended with the Houston Astros. They beat the Astros in seven games and were the World Series Champions.
It was the best season of Strasburg’s career. He pitched with a 3.32 ERA and pitched a career-high of 209 innings. He came short in the Cy Young and MVP ballet but the ring was more than enough for Strasburg’s amazing season. However, what he didn’t know at that time was the Strasburg injury would see him pitch in less than 10 games of baseball.
The Strasburg Injury
Despite having four years left in his contract, Strasburg went on the free agency market in the off-season to see what offers he would get. He got a $245 million contract for seven years with the Nationals and was about to start his later years with the same team that drafted him.
But 2020 struck and the infamous pandemic affected everyone’s lives. The MLB season started but a Strasburg injury saw him put on the IL. In August he finally made his debut but was quickly put back in the IL after only two games. He had to get surgery in 2021 for thoracic outlet syndrome and was out for the rest of the season. In 2022 he tried to have a comeback but the Strasburg injury led to additional pain in his body. In 2023 he didn’t even report for spring training.
Strasburg had the biggest achievement in all of baseball and risked everything to get it. Even his body was a casualty of that achievement. But now that he has had to get surgery and now lives with so much pain it would be tough to say it was worth the Strasburg injury. It’s an age-old story about athletes risking everything for the gold, but now that he did risk everything he has to fight a new fight with his own body.
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