Whether you root for the Nationals or not doesn’t really matter. This makes baseball less interesting as a whole, as Strasburg was legitimately one of the most entertaining guys in the sport. Rather than getting to watch him throw 100 MPH fastballs, we now have to spend the next year and a half talking about whether he’ll ever be the same pitcher again post-surgery. While the success rate of TJ surgery is very high, it’s certainly possible that his velocity never comes all the way back, and we never get to see what a pitcher who threw that hard could have turned into.
This is a loss for the game. Obviously, it’s a pretty significant blow to the Nationals as well, who now have to re-think their path to contention and potentially push back their time-frame a year or two. If they were thinking of re-signing Adam Dunn before, they almost certainly shouldn’t now. Losing Strasburg for 2011 and getting a questionable version of him for 2012 pushes the Nats back into long-term building mode, as they just lost a player they simply can’t replace. This injury has a significant effect on the decisions Washington has to make this winter.
Someday, hopefully, science will catch up the with the sport, and we’ll figure out how to keep some of these great young arms healthy. Until then, we’ll just have to cross our fingers every time another phenomenal pitching prospect hits the show. We’re getting used to losing them early. Maybe pitching is just such an unnatural movement that it’s unavoidable, but I’m holding out hope that some smart guy will figure out how to keep these arms from blowing out. If MLB wants to find an area to invest in their long term future, this is where they should be throwing money.
Hurry back, Strasburg. The game won’t be as fun without you.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.