17 days from now when the Nationals pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, young ace Stephen Strasburg will be among them. Strasburg’s season was solid, not fantastic. He was coming off a memorable 2012 season that included an All-Star game nod, NL Pitcher of the Month in April after tossing an NL-best 34 strikeouts, topped off with an NL Silver Slugger Award (given to the best offensive player at each position in each league). He helped lead the Nationals to the best record in baseball that year but was shut down in early September for injury prevention purposes.
Despite lingering injuries he managed to start 30 games in 2013, posting a 3.00 ERA over 183 innings. Three months have passed since Strasburg underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow. He’s been the Nationals anchor in what has shaped up to be a very capable bullpen. Yesterday at NatsFest, Strasburg spoke to local media saying he was feeling good and looking forward to getting back to work.
Worth mentioning is that pitching coach Steve McCatty is now in his fifth year in the role. The players have grown very fond of McCatty and deserves significant credit for the way this pitching staff has grown over the last few years. His influence will likely dictate Strasburg’s growth and rehabilitation this Spring as well.
Strasburg is going to find very high expectations upon his return. Strasburg while still very young is now in his fourth season with the team. He was the number 1 overall pick and while he is certainly the Nationals ace, his future is not certain. His contract runs up at the end of the year, and if Strasburg wants the big contract renewal he is going to have to play for it. Maybe he can learn something about playing for a contract from his NBA counterpart John Wall…