Discover more from The Nats Report
Perspective: Washington Nationals' RHP Stephen Strasburg Set to Retire
Stephen Strasburg's journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring young pitchers.
Closing time, every new beginning Comes from some other beginning's end...
Yes, those are lyrics from Semisonic's hit Closing Time, They also illustrate what I am feeling right now after hearing the news yesterday that Washington Nationals' RHP Stephen Strasburg is set to officially retire in September from Major League Baseball.
I could have written something right after hearing the news, but I wanted the news to sit with me for a bit before I wrote something about Strasburg and what he meant for the Washington Nationals and also the fans.
I've been watching, and attending games of the Washington Nationals since the ceremonial first pitch at RFK Stadium to kick off the 2005 season. I've been lucky to be at some of the most memorable Washington Nationals moments from Jayson Werth's Walk off Homerun in 2012, Max Scherzer's 20 strike-out game, two World Series games in 2019, and countless playoff games that were filled with a lot of disappointment. There are only two games that I didn't attend that I wish that I was at Nats Park for and one of them was the MLB debut of Stephen Strasburg.
I remember sitting in my then office watching the game, and just thinking to myself, I wish that I was at Nats Park. The hype of Strasburg was real. His performance that June afternoon at Nationals Park was nothing short of electrifying, and "Stras-mania" swept through the baseball world and more importantly through Washington D.C.
In his rookie season, Strasburg continued to impress, finishing with a 5-3 record, a 2.91 ERA, and 92 strikeouts in just 68 innings pitched. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, which required Tommy John surgery. This setback tested Strasburg's resilience, but he was determined to come back stronger.
After undergoing successful Tommy John surgery in September 2010, Strasburg embarked on a grueling rehabilitation journey. He spent the better part of the 2011 season recovering and preparing for his return. In 2012, Strasburg made a triumphant comeback, showcasing his signature power and precision on the mound. However, the Nationals adhered to a strict innings limit to protect their prized pitcher's arm, benching him in early September despite the team's playoff push. This decision was met with some controversy but demonstrated the Nationals' commitment to Strasburg's long-term health.
Strasburg's career continued to ascend, and he became an integral part of the Nationals' pitching staff. His postseason performances, particularly during the 2019 playoffs, were nothing short of legendary. Strasburg played a pivotal role in leading the Nationals to their first-ever World Series championship. His 5-0 record with a 1.98 ERA earned him the World Series MVP award, capping off an incredible journey from Tommy John surgery to baseball's pinnacle.
The last few years were obviously extremely tough to see and I am sure that it was even tougher for Strasburg. Last year, I had the opportunity to witness Stephen Strasburg up close and personal during one of his rehab starts with the Fredericksburg Nationals. Little did I know that it would be one of his final appearances as a pitcher for the Washington Nationals. Watching him on the field served as a vivid reminder of just how incredible a pitcher he was and made me think, what if... What if he never dealt with so many injuries during his career, would he be a Cy-Young Award winner, what other awards would he have won? Would he have made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame?
What ifs are never good to think about, because they make you think of the misses in life, but as far as I am concerned the What Happened outweighs all those What ifs.
Stephen Strasburg's career was a testament to talent, hard work, and perseverance. From his early dominance in college to his remarkable comeback from Tommy John surgery and his World Series heroics, Strasburg's legacy in the world of baseball is secure.
Strasburg's journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring young pitchers, reminding them that with dedication and determination, they too can achieve greatness on the mound. As Strasburg ends his career, his impact on the game and the Washington Nationals will be remembered for generations to come.
Strasburg might not make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, however, I hope that the Nationals retire his number (that's a game that I will not miss) and place it in a more important hall for future Nationals fans and players to see: the Ring of Honor at Nationals Park.