Stephen Strasburg Lands on DL With Upper Back Strain

According to Dan Kolko of MASN, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has landed on the 15-day disabled list with an upper back strain. He sustained the injury during a weightlifting mishap last week, when two of his ribs popped out of place. The move is retroactive to June 16, the day after his last start against the Chicago Cubs. It’s a tough blow for the 27-year-old righty, who is currently in the middle of a breakout season for the Nationals.

In fourteen starts this year, the former number-one overall pick has posted a strong 2.90 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP and a perfect 10-0 record. As Max Scherzer has struggled a bit this season, Strasburg has kept the rotation above water thanks to his consistency every fifth day. It seemed like everything was going right for Strasburg after signing a seven-year, $175 million extension in May, but at least for now things are going to have to be put on hold. Luckily for the Nationals, the injury doesn’t seem to be too serious. With how tight the NL East currently is, Washington can’t afford to be losing one of their best weapons on the mound. It is essential for Strasburg to return fully healthy, as he has been known to struggle when he hits the field and isn’t 100 percent.

Strasburg was originally scratched this past Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the hope some extended rest would allow him to start Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Strasburg threw a light bullpen on Friday, but it didn’t seem like it was enough to convince the Nationals he could avoid the disabled list. A lot of pressure will be put on the rest of this rotation until Strasburg is ready to return, because Washington only sits three games ahead of the Mets for first place right now.

Tanner Roark replaced Strasburg against the Brewers in the finale of their three-game series Sunday. Roark was dominant, shutting out the Brewers for a total of seven innings. The Nationals had lost seven straight heading into the day, so the performance from Roark was a huge step in the right direction.

Right now, Washington just has to hope they can continue to piece their pitching staff together until they’re fully healthy once again. If they don’t, the rest of the NL East could make the standings look a lot different in a hurry. There’s never a ton of breathing room for a team that is forced to compete head to head with the World Series runner-up down the stretch.

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