“It’s just something that’s been lingering, and I just felt it more and more,” Strasburg said after the game. “I feel like it was something, I feel like I could’ve gone through it. But at this point in the season, you just want to get it right and not alter your mechanics too much. I think that’s the big thing. When I did feel it, I kind of started feeling for it.”
Nationals manager Matt Williams revealed that Strasburg also experienced similar pain during his last start on Thursday night, a victory in New York. But the tall right-hander was able to work through it.
“Last time out, it loosened up for him, but tonight it just wouldn’t loosen up,” Williams said. “So we’ll see what the doc has to say. He said he feels like there’s a rib out. Like an alignment issue. Didn’t want to take a chance and have him change mechanics and hurt something so we got him outta there.”
The 26-year-old Strasburg attempted to describe the soreness.
“The best way I can put it: You’re driving a car fast over speed bumps. The irritation kind of rattles the cage a little bit,” Strasburg said. “I think it’s something that I can go out there and let it go. I was just feeling it more trying to throw fastballs away to righties, down and in to lefties. It just kind of caused me to alter my mechanics a little too much and lost some command from it.”
Williams addressed the possibility of this issue causing Strasburg to end up on the disabled list.
“I don’t think we make that decision yet,” Williams said. “He’s perfectly fine otherwise. He’s had issue in the past with feeling something in his low back or something like that. I wouldn’t imagine that’s serious, but we’ll have to see what the results tell us. But we wanted to get him outta there and make sure he didn’t injure elbow, shoulder ... something like that and change his mechanics.”
Strasburg said he has visited a chiropractor before and Williams indicated that treatment will be part of the process now.
Strasburg gave up a two-out single to Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and a walk to center fielder Marcell Ozuna before working out of a jam in the first.
In the second, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto led off with a triple down the left field line. One batter later, left fielder Ichiro Suzuki slapped a base hit to left as Realmuto jogged home. Then, Strasburg really began laboring.
On a full count, Strasburg hit shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Marlins starter Mat Latos followed with a sacrifice bunt that Strasburg fielded but one-hopped his throw to second baseman Dan Uggla, who was covering first base. Suzuki sprinted home as Uggla couldn’t secure the wild toss and Strasburg was charged with an error.
That is when Williams,pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz made their way to the mound to check on Strasburg.
“They just asked how I was feeling, and I said it’s just kind of a little gritty back there, but I feel like I can get through it,” Strasburg said.
Strasburg remained in the game to finish the second and came out to pitch a scoreless third. But he had already thrown 64 pitches through the first three innings.
“His pitch count got really high, got up there, and he was more and more uncomfortable with it as he went through the last inning,” Williams said. “Then when he got back in there, we decided we’re not gonna take that chance.”
Strasburg ended up allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Back in 2010, Strasburg made a trip to the DL with right shoulder inflammation. A month later, after he had returned to the mound, a torn right UCL resulted in Tommy John surgery for the former top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Strasburg is 2-3 with a 4.73 ERA in six starts this season.