Washington Nationals Starting Pitcher Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 15 day DL today with a sore elbow15 day DL today with a sore elbow. Strasburg was scheduled to start tonight against the Baltimore Orioles, but will be replaced by A.J. Cole, who was recalled from AAA.
The move came as a surprise to Nationals Columnist Thomas Boswell, but maybe not such a surprise to the gang at Fangraphs, who just posted a column regarding Strasburg’s recent struggles.
Over his last six outings, Strasburg has given up 26 runs in 30.2 innings pitched. Crunch the numbers and you’ll find that works out to a decidedly un-ace-like 7.63 ERA. These six outings have caused his season ERA to rise more than one full run, from 2.51 to 3.59. The good news is that there’s more than a little hope to be found in his peripheral stats. Over this awful stretch, his FIP is a massively more palatable 3.25, largely on the strength of a solid 29.1% strikeout rate and a roughly league-average 7.8% walk rate. It also likely won’t surprise you to learn that he’s posted an inflated .388 BABIP during this rough patch. Unfortunately, this is not to say Strasburg’s swoon has been entirely devoid of red flags.
In mid-June, Strasburg hit the disabled list with a back injury. Considering a back injury was the primary culprit in Strasburg’s first-half struggles last season, this latest DL stint was an unavoidably alarming development. Fortunately, he made a swift return to the mound. Any hopes that he’d escape the performance struggles which plagued him a year ago, however, have been derailed by his recent stretch. Whether those struggles are directly related to the injury is unknowable, but there are observable things about Strasburg which have changed since his return.
Strasburg was recently signed to a 7 year, 175 million dollar contract extension. Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010.
h/t to Prof for the tip.