clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Washington Nationals’ 1-2 rotation punch healthy and ready to get 2018 started...

New, comments

Washington’s 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation finished first and third, respectively, in the NL Cy Young race this winter, and Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are both healthy and ready for the 2018 campaign.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg ended the 2016 campaign on the Disabled List with what was later diagnosed as a torn pronator tendon in his right arm. He was working to try to make himself available if the Washington Nationals managed to advance beyond the Division Series matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that didn’t happen.

Max Scherzer injured the ring finger on his right hand late in the 2016 season, but he pitched through the pain and finished out the year with two appearances against LA during the NLDS.

Scherzer’s offseason workout regimen last winter was set back significantly by what was later diagnosed as a stress fracture in the finger.

Strasburg missed time late in 2017 with a right elbow nerve impingement, an injury he blamed on the change in routine related to his All-Star appearance, but was able to get back in time for the stretch run and the Nationals’ NLDS matchup with Chicago’s Cubs, starting twice in what ended up another loss in the Division Series.

Outside of the DL stint which followed the All-Star Break, Strasburg was able to stay on the mound in 2017.

He was dominant after returning from the Disabled List, and was able to be there for his teammates down the stretch, something he went into the season saying was important to him after he’d missed out on two of the previous three postseason runs in the nation’s capital.

Strasburg ended up third in voting for the NL Cy Young, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Scherzer.

“There was that little spot around the All-Star Game,” Strasburg said of the injury issues he dealt with last season, “but I’m [happy] with the way I bounced back and I think I progressed a little bit more in that department in how my body works and what I need to do to stay consistent. I think it’s just — I’m not satisfied by any means. I think there is more in the tank, so I was excited to get back to work as soon as the season was over and keep trying to get better, get stronger, and ready for the next season.”

Scherzer dealt with injuries all season long, but still managed to win his second NL Cy Young award in a row.

After he recovered from the stress fracture in his ring finger, he dealt with a neck issue and a calf injury, but battled to stay on the mound, making one solid start and one less successful relief appearance in the matchup with the Cubbies.

When the season ended, Scherzer finally got a chance to rest up and recover.

He told reporters at WinterFest in mid-December that he was finally 100% healthy after what was a trying, though successful season.

“I’m truly 100% healthy,” Scherzer said. “I’m running, lifting, throwing a baseball, I’m really looking forward — I’ve been dreaming up ideas of how I want to get better in 2018, things I’m looking to accomplish, and the limited games of catch I’m playing, I really feel good about how the ball is coming out of my hand and what I can take forward into next year. From a training standpoint, I’m full go.”

“I was battling some nagging injuries throughout the whole year,” Scherzer explained.

“Nothing that could truly knock me out, but enough to constantly have to be paying attention to stuff. But once I got to the offseason, finally I felt 100% healthy.

“Still playing catch all the way through, and it feels great to be throwing a baseball 100% healthy and actually be able to go through my full offseason regimen and not be inhibited in any way, so I’m itching to get back out there in 2018.”

Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at WinterFest nothing has chanced since last Spring in terms of the team counting on the one-two punch at the top of their rotation, but, he said, having both Strasburg and Scherzer healthy heading into Spring Training is big.

“Last year we were counting on those guys to be factors for us and horses for us, and I don’t think that part of it has changed,” Rizzo said.

“I think it changes their preparation, cause now — I’ve always said, in the offseason when you’re preparing for Spring Training as opposed to rehabbing to get to Spring Training, it’s a big difference, so I think that those are just two positives that they’re both healthy and preparing for Spring Training and getting ready for the long season.”