Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is retiring, per multiple reports. Strasburg, 35, has not pitched this year, and appeared in just one major league game in 2022.
Per the Washington Post, Strasburg “has struggled with mundane tasks, such as lifting his young daughters or opening a door with his right hand,” due to nerve damage from thoracic outlet syndrome, which he had surgery to try to fix in July, 2021. He was shut down from physical activity early this year, and apparently things are still serious enough that he will not be able to even try to return to action.
It is an unfortunate ending for a pitcher who, when healthy, was one of the best in baseball for a number of years. Heralded as one of the best pitching prospects ever to come out of the amateur ranks, he was drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals out of San Diego State in 2009, and made his major league debut in 2010. His rookie season was cut short, however, by a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery in August of that season.
Strasburg returned from the injury ahead of schedule and put up a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings over five starts at the ending of 2011. From 2012 through 2014 he put up 9.3 bWAR over 92 starts, and it looked like he was establishing himself as a legitimate top of the rotation starter for the Nationals.
Unfortunately, he struggled to stay on the mound the next four years, making 107 starts over that span. His high water mark was in 2017, when he put up a 2.52 ERA in 28 starts — the most he made in any season in that stretch — and finished third in the Cy Young Award balloting, logging 6.3 bWAR.
He finished 5th in the Cy Young balloting and 15th in the MVP voting in 2019, when he led the league in wins (18) and innings pitched (209) while posting a 5.6 bWAR. That season culminated in the Nationals winning the World Series, and Strasburg being named World Series MVP after allowing four runs in 14.1 IP over two starts against the Houston Astros.
Between the regular season and the postseason, Strasburg logged 245 innings on the year, the highest workload he had ever handled. Since that season, Strasburgh has only thrown 31 major league innings since the start of 2020.
Strasburg signed a 7 year, $245 million deal in December, 2019, after opting out of his 7 year, $175 million deal that offseason. It is unclear whether Strasburg is walking away from the $105 million remaining on that deal after this season.