Nationals’ Strasburg placed on 10-day IL with neck strain

ATLANTA (AP) — The Washington Nationals placed right-hander Stephen Strasburg on the 10-day injured list with a neck strain before Wednesday night’s game at Atlanta.

Strasburg flew to Washington to be examined on Wednesday after he complained of tightness in his shoulder and neck in Tuesday night’s 11-6 win over the Braves. The 32-year-old was pulled after only 1 1/3 innings.

Strasburg’s injury adds more stress to an already thin Nationals rotation. Left-hander Jon Lester was to start Wednesday night’s game on only three days’ rest.

Manager Dave Martinez said he and his staff were “banging our heads now trying to figure out something for Sunday” when Strasburg was scheduled to make his next start at Philadelphia.

Right-hander Erick Fedde, on the 10-day IL due to an illness, could soon rejoin the rotation. He is scheduled make a rehab start for Class A Wilmington on Thursday. If that schedule is not changed he would not be a candidate to start in Sunday’s game.

This is Strasburg’s second stint on the injured list this season. He was shut down from April 15 until May 21 with right shoulder inflammation. That recent injury contributed to the decision by Martinez to remove the right-hander so early from Tuesday night’s game.

Martinez said Strasburg “was a bit frustrated” when the two spoke on Wednesday.

“He came back and felt good and had these issues with his neck going on yesterday,” Martinez said. “I told him let’s get him checked out and see where he’s at.”

Strasburg left Tuesday night’s game after William Contreras’ liner hit his left arm near his glove in the second inning. Martinez and his medical staff was concerned about the right-hander from the start of the game, when he walked Ronald Acuña Jr. on four pitches.

Strasburg allowed one run on one hit and two walks while throwing only 30 pitches. He is 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in five starts.

Strasburg has won 113 games in 12 seasons, all with Washington, but has made only seven starts since posting an 18-6 record and 3.32 ERA in 2019.

“I know he’s frustrated because he feels he let the team down and let me down but I don’t want him to even think like that,” Martinez said.

The 2019 season was the best of Strasburg’s career. He became the first pitcher to finish a postseason with a 5-0 record and helped the Nationals win the franchise’s first championship.

Strasburg then opted out of what was left on his contract and re-signed with Washington for $245 million over seven years.

He made all 33 regular-season starts in 2019 and topped the NL in wins and with 209 innings. Since then, Strasburg’s has battled more injuries.

He made only two appearances in 2020 before being shut down with numbness in his right hand. He had carpal tunnel surgery on his right wrist.

Strasburg has made two appearances on the injured list per season in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and now again this season.

The Nationals recalled right-hander Kyle McGowin from Triple-A Rochester. McGowin has a 3.09 ERA in 10 appearances, all in relief, for Washington this season.

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AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.

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