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Strasburg departs in 2nd inning with tight left trapezius

May 29, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Stephen Strasburg’s latest abbreviated start was the result of a new (though potentially related) physical ailment to the upper right back discomfort that plagued him earlier this month: Tightness in his left trapezius muscle.

Manager Matt Williams revealed this newest injury to reporters in Cincinnati following the Nationals’ 5-2 loss Friday night, but offered no definitive plan moving forward.

“We don’t know at this point,” Williams said. “We’ll have to see how he is tomorrow and evaluate. I don’t know, it’s the other side. We’ll see what he shows up with tomorrow.”

Strasburg totaled only 16 pitches at Great American Ball Park before departing with head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz, clearly in discomfort as he threw in the bottom of the second inning. He faced five batters in total, giving up an opposite-field solo homer to Joey Votto and a single to Todd Frazier in the first inning, then walking Brayan Peña on five pitches to open the second.

During that Peña at-bat, Strasburg’s mechanics looked out of whack. He fell off the mound well more to the left than normal, then tried to maneuver his neck and shoulders after multiple pitches.

“He came out of the bullpen good,” Williams said. “He went through the first inning good. Joey hit a 97 mph fastball down and in for a homer, and it was a pretty good pitch. But then the second inning, he went out there and it started to tighten up on him.”

This ailment comes 24 days after Strasburg departed a start against the Marlins with discomfort under his right shoulder blade.

“This is new,” Williams said. “It’s new. It’s left side. It’s in his neck. So we’ll have to address it. Nothing as of right now until tomorrow.”

Whether the two ailments are connected or not, this much is obvious: Strasburg has not been himself for a good month. He has now failed to complete the fourth inning in four of his last five starts, giving up 20 runs (18 earned) and 26 hits in only 16 innings.

Overall, Strasburg now has a 6.55 ERA in 10 starts.

  1. Toot D. Blan - May 29, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    Good ol’ boy Ray Knight had the definitive diagnosis of Strasburg’s problem as soon as he left the game.

  2. Joe Seamhead - May 29, 2015 at 11:24 PM

    Just watched the post game interview with Stephen Strasburg. My honest take? I think the guy is having panic attacks and he’s tensing up and his pains and tightness are manifesting in different places. I, Dr. Seamhead, would prescribe a two week rehabilitation trip to Maho Bay on the Carribean island of St.John. The warm,clear water and white sand, along with a couple of rum Painkillers a day would cure what ails him.

    In all seriousness, something is out of whack. Maybe he really is having panic attacks. Or maybe he has a spinal nerve issue. Whatever ails him, I sure hope they figure it out, and soon, for his sake, for the team’s.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 29, 2015 at 11:52 PM

      It’s called “somatizing.” Manifesting genuine physical symptoms from psych issues. I don’t know that’s what’s happening, I’m just saying.

      • natsfan1a - May 30, 2015 at 7:45 AM

        You could look it up. (I’m not psychoanalyzing either, just providing a musical interlude. It’s what I do.) 🙂

      • natsfan1a - May 30, 2015 at 7:45 AM

        Oh, yeah. Link:

      • natsfan1a - May 30, 2015 at 7:46 AM

        Um, oops?

      • Doc - May 30, 2015 at 8:59 AM

        Thinking the same thing, Sec. 3. Unfortunately, all we can do is wonder.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 10:52 AM

        It certainly seems possible. MW seemed totally flustered, with no idea what’s up with him. It’s like he has an issue du jour.

      • Doc - May 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM

        Great link!

        Thanks!!!!

  3. Theophilus T.S. - May 29, 2015 at 11:26 PM

    My take — based on inferences because neither Strasburg nor the team have been completely obfuscatory — is Strasburg has withheld details of his physical condition, as it relates to his performance, since before the end of Spring Training. Rather than accept conventional treatment after the previous episode Strasburg opted to be treated by a quack who not only didn’t fix things he probably set things up for a subsequent injury. It’s totally a betrayal of his obligations to a team that stood on its head to preserve his arm and his career. This time he goes on the DL until the problems, medical, mechanical and mental, are resolved. If he stays on the DL the rest of the year, so be it because he’s doing no one any damn good as it is. If he refuses conventional medical treatment, suspend him. Screw Boras.

    • unkyd59 - May 30, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Seems to me that both the team and Stras and the team HAVE been completely obfuscatory (or nearly so)…

  4. Joe Seamhead - May 29, 2015 at 11:27 PM

    Don’t be surprised if Votto gets drilled Saturday.

    • David Proctor - May 29, 2015 at 11:36 PM

      Especially since Cingrani is still running his mouth about it.

      • rayvil01 - May 30, 2015 at 6:22 AM

        Cingrani: “”He should have jogged, but what are you going to do? Be a baseball player. Sorry I hit you, run.”

        That’s quite a statement from a guy who never takes an AB.
        That ball had to hurt badly. It was right on the spine. Fortunate that it didn’t do any real damage.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2015 at 8:47 AM

        +1 punk needed to shut his mouth

      • Hiram Hover - May 30, 2015 at 10:22 AM

        How to pronounce his name?

        Rhymes with backpass.

    • Theophilus T.S. - May 29, 2015 at 11:52 PM

      If Votto doesn’t get drilled I’m going to be unhappy.

      • Theophilus T.S. - May 29, 2015 at 11:55 PM

        Harvey proving that TJ has a deferred payment plan.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 30, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        Exactly (on the ‘deferred payment plan’ analogy). Having closely observed a few Nats pitchers coming back from TJ surgery, I was astounded to hear some of the discussion surrounding Matt Harvey’s return (and the expectations for the season). Ditto Jose Fernandez in Miami.

  5. Joe Seamhead - May 29, 2015 at 11:40 PM

    Off topic but not only did the Mets lose to the Fish, but our old buddy Dan Haren out dueled Matt Harvey. Good stuff.

    • AlexandriaNatFan - May 29, 2015 at 11:56 PM

      +1

    • virginiascopist - May 30, 2015 at 7:20 AM

      Might Dan Haren be a piece Miami could sell off to some poor unsuspecting team that doesn’t realize he’s only good for half a season (despite the evidence from the last three years)? Does his salary continue to be paid by the Dodgers if he gets traded?

      • DaveB - May 30, 2015 at 8:30 AM

        His salary doesn’t “get paid by the Dodgers “, they just sent the $10M along with his deal, so the Marlins can negotiate whatever deal they want in a trade ( either pay some or all of his salary or not).

  6. Theophilus T.S. - May 30, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    Thinking about it, they should send Jordan down and bring Hill up tomorrow to start, for the sole purpose of getting as close to Votto’s chin as possible, let Gonzalez finish the inning. The Harper HBP was as bush as anything I’ve seen. It would get a Little League coach banned for the season.

    • Eric - May 30, 2015 at 1:30 AM

      That was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in 3 years of obsessive baseball watching (SSS and all that). WTF was Votto’s problem?

    • Eric - May 30, 2015 at 1:30 AM

      That was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen in 3 years of obsessive baseball watching (SSS and all that). WTF was Votto’s problem?

      • dcwx61 - May 30, 2015 at 9:08 AM

        panic attacks of course

      • Hiram Hover - May 30, 2015 at 10:23 AM

        Votto appears to have lost a lot of weight. Maybe hunger pangs affecting his brain?

      • Eric - May 30, 2015 at 10:58 AM

        Could be! I call it “hanger” when my wife displays such symptoms.

        Maybe they can make a Snickers commercial out of the footage.

      • therealjohnc - May 30, 2015 at 11:25 AM

        I think Votto was trying to pick a fight to fire up his team. The Reds lost nine of ten coming in to last night and their manager has been making news for all the wrong reasons. It’s one of the oldest “unite and motivate the team” tools in the tool kit.

  7. natsfan1a - May 30, 2015 at 7:47 AM

    On topic, didn’t see the game, and won’t see the remainder of the series. Just watched the Harper/Votto clip on mlb.com. What the what, Joey?

    And whatever is going on with Stephen, hope they figure it out.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    Nats have a reliever coming to Cincinnati just in case they DL Strasburg as they are now short a man in the pen.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 30, 2015 at 9:17 AM

      In case? I find it almost impossible to imagine Mr. Strasburg doesn’t go to the DL. Whatever the cause/diagnosis, he needs to recover (or work it out) somewhere other than on the mound in a big league ballpark. It’s clearly not doing him or the team any good to keep running him out there every 5th game. Having removed him from a game in the 2nd inning, the team has a more than legitimate reason to shift him to the DL to address things.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2015 at 9:41 AM

        The need to play it out and who know if they don’t trade out TJord for a long man.

        Stras is singlehandedly killing the bullpen.

        Team before ME.

  9. Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    Whether Ramos could’ve or should’ve made the play at the plate, or not,you have to give Michael Taylor a lot of credit just for making the play close on that sac fly. That was a long throw, and when Michael caught the ball I thought that the run would score was a foregone conclusion. He made it exciting. Too bad it didn’t work out.

    • Eric - May 30, 2015 at 8:50 AM

      +1!

    • Doc - May 30, 2015 at 8:53 AM

      Great throw by MAT. Is there no one on the coaching staff (Knorr???) who can practice Ramos on catching a ball from the OF?

      Watching Ramos drop throws from the OF is getting tired..

      • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 10:24 AM

        As Nats Jack said on the game thread, if the ball had come either 2 feet further in, or 2 feet further out, it would have been an easier play. The MLB camera shots show a couple of better angles than the MASN shots did during the game. I still believe that though it was a tough play, it was a play that some other catchers make.

        http://m.mlb.com/video/v136379583/?c_id=mlb

        [I hope the link works].

      • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 10:27 AM

        The link works. Watch it until the end, as you will see a great front view of the ball and glove.

      • ITGSOT - May 30, 2015 at 11:04 AM

        Ramos is allowed to take a step toward or back from the throw in order to make the hop easier to field. He doesn’t have to stand there like his feet are encased in concrete. As FP always says after an infield error, the key to having a soft glove is to keep the feet moving. Same applies at catcher.

    • Hiram Hover - May 30, 2015 at 10:24 AM

      +1. Couldn’t really ask for much better from MAT.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 10:40 AM

        Like I said, he made it interesting, but I don’t think the throw was perfect, and it wasn’t an easy play by any stretch.. I hope nobody minds if I re-post a video link of Juan Lagares’ outfield assists from 2013, the year that he led the NL in outfielder assists. 6 of 7 of his assists to the plate were bounce throws, but none of them were on as short of a hop as Taylor’s throw.

      • Hiram Hover - May 30, 2015 at 11:16 AM

        Thanks for the link, Joe.

        You’re right–MAT’s throw wasn’t perfect. A longer hop would have been better, and so yes, you could ask for more from him.

        We could also ask for more from Wilson. The catcher(s?) did pretty great in that Lagares highlight reel too.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 11:21 AM

        I believe that there were 4 different Mets catchers receiving Lagares’ throws in that video.

  10. Whynat - May 30, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    Completely disagree that the game situation says the HBP was not intentional. 2 outs, 1B open. What do what most teams do? Pitch around Harper. HPB is much more efficient, and aggressive. HPB was intentional in my opinion and I will not be surprised if Votto wears one in the not too distant future. I was kind of hoping he came to bat in the eighth because it would have been the perfect opportunity to address the issue.

    IIRC, Nats dealt with a similar situation very promptly earlier this year.

    • Doc - May 30, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      The Cinci announcers laughed about it, and said the HBP was quicker than an IBB.

      • NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:28 AM

        Yeah, but more painful. I bet Bryce has a heckuva bruise this morning.

  11. Whynat - May 30, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    Given the state of the bullpen, Nats can’t afford to get a pitcher tossed. But if Votto comes up late in a lopsided game……..

  12. NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    Some interesting stats.

    Before the start, John Fisher of ESPN Stats and Info sent out this series of incredible numbers generated by Strasburg this year:

    1. In innings when the Nationals’ defense makes an error, Strasburg allows opponents to hit .529 with an OPS of 1.365, and he strikes out only 10.3 percent of the batters he faces. (When the D doesn’t make an error, he has allowed a .277 opponents’ batting average and a .744 OPS, with a 23.7 K percentage.)

    Stephen Strasburg, By Score (2015)
    STAT	TEAM AHEAD	BEHIND
    ERA	2.57	12.09
    Opp. OPS	.818	.945
    K pct.	25.0	21.3
    BB pct.	2.8	4.3
    HR	0	5
    

    2. When the team is trailing, he has struggled. His ERA is 12.09 when the Nationals are trailing in the game.

    3. He also has been worse with runners on base. Strasburg has allowed opponents to hit .417 (1.022 OPS) when there are runners on base, with just a 12.6 K percentage. When there are no runners on, opponents have hit .248 (.721 OPS), and he has a 28.2 K percentage.

    • NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:24 AM

      Trying again with the table.

      Stephen Strasburg, By Score (2015)
      STAT	TEAM AHEAD	   BEHIND
      ERA	2.57	                       12.09
      Op OPS	.818  	.945
      K pct.	25.0	               21.3
      BB pct.	2.8	                 4.3
      HR	0	                            5
      
      • NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        I give up on the table. The runners-on-base performance could be because of pitching from the stretch, but that doesn’t explain why Stras pitches so poorly when the team is behind. That should not happen. This team has shown it can come back, plenty of times. At any rate, NOT HIS JOB to worry about the score.

      • Toot D. Blan - May 30, 2015 at 9:42 AM

        It’s not like Strasburg is a reliever who comes into the game with the Nats already behind and pitches poorly. If the Nats are behind when Strasburg is pitching, it’s because he put them there by pitching poorly. So if he pitches poorly when the team is behind, he’s just continuing a pattern he started himself.

      • NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:53 AM

        True. But how many times have we seen JZ or even Scherzer give up a first inning run, and then “settle down” for a string of shutout innings?

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 30, 2015 at 10:39 AM

        Agreed about SSS. And what about ‘when tied’? Also, hasn’t he been prone to move into the ‘when behind’ category pretty quickly? How many innings/batters in each category?

    • Hiram Hover - May 30, 2015 at 10:27 AM

      My guess is the team ahead/team behind splits have as much to do with SSS as anything else.

      The biggest difference appears to be the HRs, and I have a hard time believing there’s a significant reason he’s more prone to give up HRs with his team behind.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 30, 2015 at 10:39 AM

        10:39 a.m. post above was supposed to go here.

  13. NatsLady - May 30, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    Saw this on fangraphs.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/the-daily-grind-de-la-rosa-anderson-norris/

    I’ve lived near Durham. NC since last August, but yesterday was the first time I made it over to watch the Durham Bulls. Our seats were in the outfield corner on the first base side. I’ve always found it very hard to watch a game from that angle.

    The Durham bullpen was right next to us. I recognized Ronald Belisario. Jhan Marinez, Preston Guilmet, Enny Romero, and Andy Oliver. I wasn’t quite close enough to ask questions. On the other side of the field lurked Jose Valverde.

    The visiting Syracuse Chiefs started A.J. Cole. He worked his way into trouble in the fourth inning when he lost his feel for the strike zone. Like many young pitchers, he tried to reach back for more velocity when he was on the ropes. It works for some guys, but usually it results in a loss of command. Such was the case with Cole. He basically walked the bases loaded then allowed three runs on two more walks and a fielder’s choice.

    A bunch of former major leaguers were on hand. I was most excited to see Ryan Brett. The middle infielder showed off great speed. He could work his way back to the majors at some point this season. Among the most recognizable players included Tony Gwynn Jr, J.P. Arencibia, Ian Stewart, Matt Den Dekker, and Eugenio Velez.

    Emmanuel Burriss had the best day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double. Despite winning 3 to 1, the Bulls had just one hit. They also walked eight times. Belisario earned the save. Of those who played, only Cole, Brett, and Romero are considered prospects.

    • nataddicted - May 30, 2015 at 1:08 PM

      NL, Thank you very much for the reporting!

  14. arlingtonbigfish - May 30, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    This may have been discussed before. I recall that when Strasburg first came up in 2012, there was some baseball analyst who said Strasburg’s pitching motion (something about an “inverted W” or just plain “W”) was going to cause him problems somewhere down the road. All the Nats officials seemed to think he was blowing smoke. Does anyone remember this? Maybe the guy had a point.

    • masterfishkeeper - May 30, 2015 at 10:41 AM

      I remember it. I think that theory has been pretty well discredited.

      • scmargenau - May 30, 2015 at 4:04 PM

        It was some old school baller. I remember it. He was
        Like the baseball equivalent of theisman.

  15. Whack-A-Mule - May 30, 2015 at 10:37 AM

    Question posed to me by an experienced & knowledgeable baseball man in the Middle West:

    ” Is Desmond considered to be uncoachable in terms of situational hitting ? ”

    Is there a consensus opinion on this ?
    What might Rick Schu think ?

    • Joe Seamhead - May 30, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      Remember when he got in hot water with Davey for working on his swing with his high school coach before spring training?

      But you have to accept him as he has won the Silver Slugger award. Many teams have had total defensive shortstops that couldn’t compare to Desi’s production. I do wish that he was capable of shortening up his swing in 2 strike situations with runners on base, but you know what they say about wishing…

      • infideljack - May 30, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        His tendency to close his eyes and imitate a helicopter in high leverage AB’s drive me crazy. I have seen him demonstrate the ability to ID pitches and control his swing better this year, but his ego seems to take over when he decides to be the hero and hit the multi run blast.

    • Whynat - May 30, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      Yes, and Ray Knight completely called him out for over swinging with the bases loaded.

  16. Eric - May 30, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I’m generally not at all a fan of intentional beanings, but I’m feeling double-standardish right about now.

    I think a nice, pointed statement, should we find ourselves well ahead late, would be to bring in Treinen for a Votto AB, then pull him after one pitch as Votto jogs to first like a baseball player.

    It’s amazing how quickly you can go from respecting or being indifferent about a team to viewing them like the Braves.

    • masterfishkeeper - May 30, 2015 at 11:20 AM

      I’m against any HBP. As Werth said last year when Colon hit him, “We don’t have time for BS.”

      • Eric - May 30, 2015 at 11:29 AM

        Yeah, that’s generally how I feel. I’m just salty about this one. Totally absurd.

        It was very satisfying when Harp took Chapman back up the middle for a base hit. There’s no question stomping them the next two games would be better payback.

        It’s just…what a heap of dung that was.

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - May 30, 2015 at 11:57 AM

    Frandsen is unemployed again.

  18. nattygoats - May 30, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    It’s time to switch Zimm and Ramos in the order.

  19. micksback1 - May 30, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Nats Talk had an excellent discussion on Stras an I agree with them. Both Phil wood and Cliff Johnson made some really good points. This is reaklly up to Stras at this point as MW and other team mates have tried to work with his mental frame of mind.

    Phil wood had a great point that all highly touted pitcher’s of Stras’ caliber come into MLB dominant early and after a while veteran hitters figure out what pitch they can hit ansd figure out the sequences of pitches. Phil’s point was that most Aces figure out that hitters are going to have aread on them and that domination of hitters goes away. In Stras case, he thinks Stephen has not figured this out and that stras in his mind expects to be dominant.

  20. micksback1 - May 30, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    BTW: i think Votto is a first class ass. I am sick of players like him, most Braves plaers and dumb ass MLB insiders picking on Bryce and how they think he should respond. My God, Bryce was hit by a pitch, he has every GD right to say aloud it hurts. I wish someone would have punched Votto in the mouth. that really tickd me off last night

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