Injuries have plagued the Washington Nationals at the wrong time. As the team prepares for their upcoming matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series, they received some bad news about two important players.
On Tuesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters that Stephen Strasburg will most likely not pitch in the NLDS. He has not pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass in his right arm. Before the injury, Strasburg was having a very good season. He had 15 wins and a 3.60 ERA. Not having him available to pitch in the postseason is a huge loss for Washington.
To make matters worse, the team suffered another huge blow earlier in the week when catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL in Monday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The injury happened when Ramos jumped up as he was trying to catch a high relay throw from first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He landed on the ground holding his right knee. On the same day that Rizzo handed down the news about Strasburg, Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed that Ramos was out for the season. It wasn’t a very good day for Nationals fans.
It’s hard to decide which loss is worse for the Nationals. Ramos was extremely important to their team this season. He made 122 starts behind the dish for them before getting hurt, batting .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs in 482 at-bats. Ramos was an All-Star for the first time in his career this year. During the postseason, the Nationals will miss his steady presence behind the plate.
Overcoming these two major injuries is certainly not going to be easy. Backup catcher Jose Lobaton and rookie Pedro Severino will now have to assume the catching duties for the Nationals. Without Strasburg, the NLDS rotation for the team will include Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark. If they decide to go with a fourth starter, Joe Ross could step in. The other option would be to pitch Scherzer on short rest. It’s still a relatively solid group of pitchers but having Strasburg in their arsenal would make the Nationals rotation more dangerous.
The Nationals are dealing with a few other injuries. Bryce Haprer has missed four straight games because of a thumb injury. Daniel Murphy has not played since September 17 due to a strained buttocks. Murphy is a legitimate NL MVP candidate this season. He’s batting .347 with 25 homers and 104 RBIs. Both Harper and Murphy are expected to be ready for the NLDS.
There’s no doubt that the Nationals have had a solid season. After they underachieved and missed the playoffs in 2015, they bounced back this year and won the NL East. Unfortunately, they’re entering the 2016 playoffs without two key players. If Dusty Baker’s team wants to win the World Series, it’s going to take a lot of perseverance.