Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg took the mound tonight in Cincinnati, Ohio's Great American Ball Park for his tenth start of the season tonight with a 6.50 ERA, a 3.64 FIP, 13 walks (2.64 BB/9) and 45 Ks (9.14 K/9) in 44 ⅓ IP this season, over which opposing hitters have a .321/.371/.482 line.
One out in, Strasburg was down 1-0 after Joey Votto took a 97 mph 2-2 fastball to center for a solo home run that just cleared the fence.
Todd Frazier singled to left in the next at bat, but was doubled up on a grounder to first base by Jay Bruce that ended a 10-pitch first.
After a six-pitch, leadoff walk to Reds' catcher Brayan Pena in the first at bat of the bottom of the second, however, Strasburg was noticeably uncomfortable once again.
Throughout the at bat he was stretching his neck and rolling his right shoulder, and immediately after the walk, his infielders came to the mound followed quickly by Nationals' trainer Lee Kuntz and Nats' skipper Matt Williams.
It didn't take long for a decision either.
Moments later, Strasburg left the mound and walked straight into the clubhouse with the trainer.
After a number of abbreviated outings this season, including one where he struggled with an alignment issue in his back which was reportedly caused by the right-hander compensating for an ankle injury he sustained this Spring, he visited a chiropractor and reportedly worked those issues out.
As recently as this Wednesday, Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier that they believed the 26-year-old right-hander was healthy and would work his way out of his recent rough stretch.
"He feels good, healthy," Rizzo told the show's hosts. "His stuff is still really good. His velocity is good, the arm speed, the spin rate, all those things that we look into are normal and trending in the right direction.
"We feel that he's going to get on a roll and pitch to the level that we expect of him and that he expects of [himself]. So good things in the making for Stras because he's not going to pitch with these kind of numbers for very long."
No word on what the issue was tonight. The Nationals rarely, if ever, make announcements during games, so we'll probably have to wait until Matt Williams' post-game press conference for an update...
More info when it's available...