All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg will not be ready for the NL Championship Series, if the Nationals are to advance that far, manager Dusty Baker announced on Thursday ahead of Game 5 of the NLDS.
The Nationals previously expressed hope he would be ready. But that was before he hit a roadblock in his recovery.
"[The rehab] is never as fast as you would like. But he won't be available for the next series. It would be a miracle if he did," Baker said.
"You look at the calendar and just the math doesn't work out. He's not stretched out and prepared to take on such an important game," General manager Mike Rizzo said.
Baker and Rizzo confirmed what was suspected by most following Strasburg's recent setback. While throwing a bullpen session to test his right flexor mass strain earlier in the week, Strasburg felt discomfort in his elbow. He was slated to throw 35 pitches, but was stopped at around 30 because of the pain.
Strasburg threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park moments after Baker broke the news. He worked under the watchful eye of pitching coach Mike Maddux.
That is certainly good news. It could mean he will be available if the Nats make it all the way to the World Series. At the very least, it confirms that his setback was not a major one.
Rizzo expressed hope he can still line up for a potential return.
"Nothing's changed. He's still on his return-to-throw program," Rizzo said. "We're trying to build him up to see where he's at. We're certainly not going to rush him into doing something that he's incapable of doing. He is on his return-to-throw program and he's following the protocol that our doctors and trainers gave him."
Strasburg, 28, has been sidelined since Sept. 7 when he suffered the injury during a start against the Atlanta Braves. He underwent an MRI the following day, which determined his flexor strain.
The test confirmed his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) was intact. Strasburg had the ligament repaired in 2010 when he underwent Tommy Surgery.
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