UPDATE, 10:24 PM: Zuckerman reports that Strasburg has a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm. That’s an early diagnosis, and he’s scheduled to undergo an MRI on Sunday in the nation’s capital.
UPDATE, 9:52 PM: Here’s an update: There is no update. According to Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider, the Nats are expected to address the injury after tonight’s game.
8:45 PM: Normally we try to ease the panic and keep order around these parts, but this isn’t good.
Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg was lifted from his start against the Phillies on Saturday with an apparent elbow injury. He delivered a 2-1 pitch to Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown and then looked to be in a good deal of pain while shaking the elbow on his throwing arm. The Nats, of course, pulled him immediately.
Strasburg, 22, had thrown four-plus innings of one-run ball against a tough Phillies lineup. He ended the night with six strikeouts against zero walks.
Whether the injury proves serious or not, we’re thinking that the Nationals will call it a season for their young ace. He’s up to 68 major league innings and turned in 55.1 this year in the minors. That’s a total of 123.1 frames. He topped out at 109 innings last year for San Diego State.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.