After being pulled prematurely from Wednesday’s start, Stephen Strasburg was immediately scheduled for an MRI. It turns out they found something this time, as Strasburg has been diagnosed with a flexor mass strain.
Flexors muscles are located on the arm and help to move your fingers. This muscle grouping runs all the up to the elbow. A strain to that muscle is felt on the medial—or the part closest to the body—of the elbow and, according to orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr. David Geier, can be difficult to detect or misdiagnosed as an ulnar collateral issue. Injuries like this can be caused by one event, or by repeated overuse.
MRI revealed Strasburg has a strained flexor mass. Nats say no timetable for his return currently, need to have swelling go down— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) September 8, 2016
The pain and swelling might also be attributed to an underlying issue with the ulnar collateral ligament, which could result in yet another Tommy John surgery. Strasburg already underwent one Tommy John surgery back in August of 2010.
Back in May, the Nationals agreed to a contract extension with Strasburg to the surprise of many. With a bad free agent crop looming, Strasburg seemed to be the best impending free agent. Instead though, the Nats and their 2009 first overall pick agreed on a 7-year, $175 million deal.
On August 17th, Strasburg started experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow and was put on the disabled list. In his first start off of it on Wednesday, the discomfort seems to have resurfaced and a diagnosis has been made this time, though it seems like certain diagnosis and treatment will have to wait for the swelling to go down. The first-place Nationals have no timetable for Strasburg’s return as of yet.
Andrew Miller recently dealt with a flexor mass strain in his throwing elbow. On June 10th of last year, Miller was sidelined with the same injury and didn’t begin a throwing program for 10 days. The then-Yankees closer didn’t stay on the disabled list too long though, as his next appearance was just under one month later.
Strasburg was in the midst of a bit of a Renaissance year prior to his injury. In 147.2 innings so far this year, Strasburg has allowed 119 hits and 44 walks while strinking out 183. Among pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched, Strasburg boasts the third-best FIP in the majors behind just Noah Syndergaard and Jose Fernandez.
In the midst of a pennant race that is going firmly in their favor, the Nationals may not need Strasburg now. However, in a postseason situation, his absence would be felt more.