2016 NLDS: Stephen Strasburg Throwing, But Nationals Remaining Cautious
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading into the postseason with a National League Divisional Series matchup against the Washington Nationals. Game 1 is set for Friday, Oct. 7, with home-field advantage yet to be determined.

The Dodgers enter Friday’s contest two games back of the Nationals, needing five out of six possible scenarios to go in their favor in order to start the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. If the teams end with identical records, Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker by virtue of winning five of six head-to-head meetings this season.

Health has been the topic of discussion lately, and both teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While the Dodgers’ injury woes have finally passed, the Nationals have been treading water as the season dwindles down.

Aside from nagging injuries to Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL last week. There’s also plenty of uncertainty surrounding Stephen Strasburg’s status.

He last started Sept. 7 and was removed due to what was later diagnosed as a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo recently resigned to the notion Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS.

While that may still hold true, there’s been some progress for Strasburg since Rizzo’s comments as the right-hander has thrown on flat ground. But Nationals manager Dusty Baker isn’t placing any pressure on Strasburg, nor does Baker have high expectations for an immediate return, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:

“We’re hoping that we get him back, but we’re planning not have him back, so we’re pleasantly surprised, not disappointed, without putting pressure on him to come back because he has a long career ahead of him,” Baker said. “I purposefully have not asked him how he’s feeling, because I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him.”

Strasburg is 15-4 with a 3.60 ERA, 2.92 FIP and 1.10 WHIP this season. He has 183 strikeouts to 44 walks in 147.2 innings pitched this season. After starting the season on a high note, durability has once again been Strasburg’s downfall.

His hot start to the season had him at 13-0, before suffering his first loss of the year, which came at home to the Dodgers.