Why did Stephen Strasburg retire? Breaking down injury history, stats, career earnings for Nationals pitcher

Stephen Strasburg was among the driving forces behind the Nationals’ World Series win in 2019. Five years (and one long injury battle) later, he is officially done playing baseball.

Strasburg is retiring from MLB after 13 seasons, all with the Nationals, he announced Saturday morning.

“As a young kid, all I dreamt about was winning a World Series,” Strasburg said in a statement. “Thanks to the many coaches, teammates, and medical staff, my boyhood dream came true in 2019.

“Despite this being a personal goal of mine, I’ve come to realize how truly important and special that moment was for so many fans in the DMV. Your unwavering support through all the ups and downs will always mean the world to me.”

Strasburg’s retirement was not surprising. He seemed on the verge of calling it quits during the 2023 MLB season, but his plans were delayed as he and the Nationals determined how to handle the remaining years on his seven-year, $245 million contract.

With the financial elements of the deal handled, Strasburg can now ride into the sunset with a World Series ring and a World Series MVP among his career accolades.

Why did Strasburg retire from MLB? Here’s how injuries marred the end of the Washington ace’s career.

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Why did Stephen Strasburg retire?

Strasburg retired after dealing with injury issues throughout the latter stages of his career, as he acknowledged in his retirement statement.

“Today, I am announcing my retirement from the game I love,” Strasburg wrote. “I realized after repeated attempts to return to pitching, injuries no longer allow me to perform at a Major League level.”

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Strasburg played in just eight games over four seasons after winning the World Series MVP award in 2019 due to injury issues. He threw just a total of 31 1/3 innings in that span, largely because of his battle with thoracic outlet syndrome.

Strasburg attempted to return from the malady several times, but he never pitched in more than three consecutive games after his World Series dominance.

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What is thoracic outlet syndrome?

Thoracic outlet syndrome “is a group of conditions in which there’s pressure on blood vessels or nerves in the area between the neck and shoulder,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

The condition can be caused by repetitive injuries from a job or sport. The compression of the vessels and nerves can cause shoulder and neck pain. It can also create numbness in the fingers, arm fatigue and a weakening grip, all of which pose immense problems for MLB pitchers.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is often treated with pain relief and physical therapy. Strasburg opted to have surgery in 2021 to remove a rib and two neck muscles that were causing his pain, per the Washington Post. It still wasn’t enough to correct the condition.

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Stephen Strasburg career stats

Strasburg threw just 528 pitches in the majors after signing a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Nationals following the 2019 World Series. Before that, he was one of the league’s best pitchers, sporting a 100 mph fastball and averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with a 3.17 ERA.

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Below is a look at his year-by-year stats and his total numbers from 13 years with the Nationals.

Year Record Innings ERA Strikeouts
2010 5-3 68 2.91 92
2011 1-1 24 1.50 24
2012 15-6 159 1/3 3.16 197
2013 8-9 183 3.00 191
2014 14-11 215 3.14 242
2015 11-7 127 1/3 3.46 155
2016 15-4 147 2/3 3.60 183
2017 15-4 175 1/3 2.52 204
2018 10-7 130 3.74 156
2019 18-6 209 3.32 251
2020 0-1 5 10.80 2
2021 1-2 21 2/3 4.57 21
2022 0-1 4 2/3 13.50 5
Career 113-62 1,470 3.24 1,723

Strasburg also played in nine career postseason games, six of which came during the 2019 playoffs. He went 5-0 that postseason with 47 strikeouts over 36 1/3 innings. He sported a minuscule ERA of just 1.98 across the playoff run.

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Stephen Strasburg career earnings

Strasburg is projected to have earned just over $351.2 million for his career by the end of 2029, per Spotrac.com.

Strasburg is projected to have earned $220.1 million through the 2024 MLB season. However, he had deferred payments attached to the seven-year, $245 million deal he signed in December 2019.

Strasburg didn’t surrender any of his $245 million contract by retiring. He did defer some of his remaining salary to future seasons, but it isn’t clear how much, per The Washington Post.


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