The Washington Nationals were given encouraging news earlier today, as word from General Manager Mike Rizzo has Stephen Strasburg not expected to miss his next start after experiencing forearm tightness in last night's 3-2 loss against the Atlanta Braves.
First words on Strasburg: "Structurally perfect"; "irritation" as opposed to "tightness"; not related to Tommy John. wapo.st/12XulAZ
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) April 30, 2013
Concerns arose about Strasburg's health during the outing, as he was frequently shaking his pitching arm in between pitches and didn't display his usual crispness and location of his pitches, in spite of his fastball velocity seen in his usual mid-to-high 90's range, ending the outing with a 98 mile-an-hour fastball to Braves outfielder Justin Upton.
With Rizzo declaring Strasburg "strong as an ox" and his elbow structurally sound after examination by medical staff, the cause of the forearm stiffness turned to Strasburg's potentially overzealous use of a pregame electrical stimulation treatment as the culprit. The treatment, also known as 'e-stim', uses pulses of electrical current to forcibly contract muscle groups in an effort to strengthen them, while also increasing blood flow to the area stimulated. Commonly used in rehabilitation settings, e-stim can also be used as a warm-up in order to loosen muscles up in preparation for competition.
While Strasburg's velocity and repertoire look to be in good form thus far in 2013, his ability to consistently throw strikes and repeat his mechanics remain inconsistent, as his 54% strike percentage and four walks last night can attest. Mutterings from baseball personnel outside of the Nationals organization also point to a slight mechanical hitch also being at the root of Strasburg's slow start (1-4 record, 3.13 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 118 ERA+). Over two years removed from Tommy John surgery and one year removed from the much ballyhooed Strasburg Shutdown innings limit, Strasburg remains a work in progress, as he works towards becoming the 30+ start, 200+ innings pitched staff ace the Nationals envisioned him being when they selected him with the first pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of San Diego State University.
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