Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, 35, once considered a lock to be eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, has more often than not been sidelined with various injuries over the past several seasons.
Those injuries have reportedly taken a serious toll on his health and well-being, and sources now indicate that the phenomenal three-time All-Star and World Series MVP is on the verge of announcing his early retirement from Major League Baseball, according to Fox News.
For some, that news will be bitterly disappointing, while for others it may seem like the logical and inevitable conclusion to a once-promising early career that was repeatedly derailed and set back by extensive time on the injury list.
The Washington Post was the first to report that unnamed sources have revealed that Strasburg intends to announce his early retirement from the sport he once dominated in exciting fashion with his stellar abilities as a pitcher.
Though nothing has been made official as of yet, the sources suggested that Strasburg's retirement could be formally revealed to the public in a news conference tentatively scheduled for September 9, when the Nationals will host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Washington D.C.
Strasburg, who first garnered attention with his pitching skills at San Diego State University, was the much-hyped top pick in the 2009 MLB draft, and he seemingly lived up to that hype when he made his major league debut with the Nationals in 2010 when he threw 14 strikeouts in just seven innings in his first appearance, a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It wasn't long, however, before the hard-throwing pitcher with a 100 mph fastball began to be plagued by injuries that often cut his seasons short, including his rookie campaign. In fact, during his 13-year career, all with the Nationals, Strasburg has only exceeded 30 starts in a season three times, and has even missed entire seasons while recovering from surgeries.
Indeed, Strasburg's last full season came in 2019, when he led the Nationals to a World Series victory, after which he signed an astonishing seven-year, $245 million contract with the team. Since then, however, he has only pitched around 31 innings and, since undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2021 -- which necessitated the removal of a rib and a pair of neck muscles -- he only made one appearance and pitched a little more than four innings before going back on the injured list.
He reportedly made multiple attempts to get himself ready to play this season but was unable to do so as he reportedly suffers from "severe nerve damage" on his right side that has made even normal day-to-day activities difficult and painful, to say nothing of the stressful bodily mechanics of the elite-level pitching he is known for.
"Every time I’ve had an injury, I felt like I was going to be the best there is coming back," Strasburg told The Post while sitting out last year. "This is the one that’s still definitely a big question mark. I realize the clock is ticking."
"When healthy, he was one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the game," teammate Ryan Zimmerman told the Associated Press. "You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who worked harder than he did. He deserves to be celebrated because he was a pretty special player. You could argue that he lived up to, or even exceeded, what was expected of a No. 1 pick."
"To be the type of prospect that he was -- in an age where everyone gets hyped up so much, you almost expect to be let down -- and him being this next phenom, and then to actually do that in his first start, it was fun to be a part of that," he added of Strasburg's famed debut. "The electricity. The crowd. The excitement. All for a game in the middle of the season. It was like something I’d never really seen before."
The AP noted that Strasburg is still owed approximately $150 million out of the $245 million contract he signed in 2019, and it is unclear if there was a buyout clause in that deal or if the Nationals will be able to negotiate a lesser amount for the oft-injured player that has barely contributed to the team since that agreement was reached.
If it is true that Strasburg intends to hang up his glove and cleats, ESPN reported that he will end his 13-year career with a record of 113-62 and a 3.24 earned run average with 1,723 strikeouts -- stellar statistics that nonetheless may prove insufficient for him to reach the Hall of Fame that he once seemed destined to be inducted into.