Stephen Strasburg set to return for the Washington Nationals, and the pressure is off

Stress has arguably been one of many defining phrases of Stephen Strasburg’s baseball profession so far. You wouldn’t understand it from his trademark stoic expression although.

As he established himself as top-of-the-line collegiate pitchers within the nation at San Diego State, the stress was on him on a weekly foundation to carry out to that commonplace.

The stress was additional on him when the Washington Nationals took him with the primary general decide in 2009, and as he made his means by way of the minor leagues as top-of-the-line pitching prospects in a era. The crew wanted him to dwell as much as the hype.

And when he lastly made it to the key leagues, the Nationals have been thrust into competition within the Nationwide League East. The group was constructed on the muse of pitching, and Strasburg was the headliner, or co-headliner with Max Scherzer, for the subsequent decade.

For probably the most half, Strasburg has lived as much as the expectations.

Sure, accidents have held him again from doing so emphatically, however with the profession that the right-hander has had to this point in addition to a World Collection title and World Collection MVP side-by-side in your mantle, it’s honest to say that you just’ve dealt with the stress fairly nicely.

Nevertheless, following Thoracic Outlet Surgical procedure that dominated him out for a lot of the 2021 season, Strasburg returns to a really completely different crew with very completely different expectations than the one he left.

The crew is floundering in final place of the division with a 21-36 file, and an emphasis has been positioned on growing youthful gamers and one-year veterans to try to flip in July.

Strasburg doesn’t have the burden of a crew and fanbase on his shoulders anymore. Given the state of the group and the severity of the harm he’s coming back from, the actual fact he’s again on a significant league mound once more is the necessary factor. Now all he must do is pitch.

“I’m going to take one pitch at a time,” supervisor Dave Martinez answered when requested about what he’s in search of from Strasburg. “The nice factor is that he feels good, he looks like he’s in place.

“Thursday is his day, and we’re going to go along with it, and I’m anticipating him to go on the market and compete.”

Some main league pitchers who’ve returned from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome have struggled to regain the shape they’d earlier than, others by no means even made it again to the majors.

Making it again is simply the first step for Strasburg, however a reasonably large step that took a variety of work.

“I advised him, ‘Hey, for what it’s price, I’m happy with you,’” Martinez mentioned. “I do know this has been a tough time for you, however you labored your butt off to get again. Simply go on the market and have enjoyable.”

The following step for Strasburg goes to be getting snug on the highest degree once more, doubtlessly with diminished velocity and stuff that different pitchers have seen following TOS. Not that it could be something new for him, given how his velocity dropped from the common triple-digits he touched in his main league debut to what he had within the World Collection in 2019.

So, with a crew that’s a good distance out of competition, this season turns into a discovery course of for Strasburg, making an attempt to determine tips on how to pitch with what he has relatively than what he had.

That’s all that the Nationals can realistically anticipate from their right-hander this yr.

“I feel a practical expectation is we would like him to be Strasburg,” GM Mike Rizzo advised 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports activities Junkies yesterday. “The everyday Stephen Strasburg, when he’s on the mound, give us an opportunity to win the baseball sport.

“We’ll watch him and monitor him carefully so far as stuff and when he wears down and that sort of factor, however there might be no restrictions or limitations on him. He’s a wholesome pitcher and we are going to deal with him akin to that, however we’ll deal with him as a pitcher that’s coming off the [Injured] Record, and a man that we’ll monitor very, very carefully.

“We anticipate him to be himself. His fastball velocity remains to be coming. His command is nice. His breaking ball and changeup have clearly been good in his rehab assignments and will probably be enjoyable to see him on a big-league mound competing in an precise big-league sport.”

Within the long-term, maybe the seven-year, $245 million contract re-applies the stress. In any case, in some unspecified time in the future throughout the remainder of the contract, the Nationals might be hoping to return to competition with Strasburg hopefully nonetheless an enormous a part of the rotation when the time comes.

For now although, Nationals followers will simply take pleasure in seeing the franchise icon again the place he belongs on a significant league mound, a sight for sore eyes in a season that hasn’t had many…