Stephen Strasburg pitched his final game of the season two days ago, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The 24-year-old right-hander, who allowed five runs in three innings before he was relieved Sept. 7 in a 9-7 loss to the Miami Marlins, said he thought he would have at least one more start against the New York Mets on Sept. 12.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to accept it, to be honest,” Strasburg said. “It’s something I’m not happy about at all. That’s not why I play the game. I play the game to be a good teammate and win. You don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to be shut down when it starts to matter. It’s going to be a tough one to swallow.”
Johnson said during spring training that Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 draft, would be limited to 150 to 160 innings this season as he started his first MLB season after elbow surgery. He pitched 159 1/3 innings in 28 games and earned a 15-6 record with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts this season.
The Nationals have the best record in Major League Baseball, 85-53, after defeating the Marlins 7-6 in 10 innings last night
Strasburg, who signed a record $15 million four-year contract, set a major league record with 41 strikeouts in his first four starts in the 2010 season and went 5-3 with a 2.91 earned run average and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. He threw a mixture of fastballs that reached 100 miles (161 kilometers) per hour, changeups and breaking pitches.
His career was interrupted by so-called Tommy John surgery on Sept. 4, 2010, to replace a ligament in his throwing arm two weeks after he injured it. He spent the 2011 season rehabbing with minor league teams.
Johnson said Strasburg was bothered by the impending shutdown and couldn’t seem to focus on his game. “I’m a firm believer that this game is 99 percent mental,” he said. It’s difficult for anyone to concentrate on the job with the media attention Strasburg is getting, he added.
“He is a gifted athlete and velocity can still be there, but I don’t see the crispness, I don’t see the ball jumping out of his hand,” Johnson said. “I think we would be risking more sending him back out.”