The announcement was made yesterday that Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg is once again heading to the disabled list with a forearm strain.

After going on the disabled list in late July with an inflamed right shoulder, Strasburg was making just his third start since returning from that injury when he was pulled with the forearm injury.

With so many over-hyped, can’t miss prospects flaming out in the last few seasons, one has to wonder: Is Strasburg the next Hall of Fame hurler, or is he heading for an injury-shortened career that falls far short of expectations?

Why He Is the Next Great Pitcher

The fact of the matter is, the Nationals have nothing to play for right now, and they have no reason not to be overly cautious with a hefty investment such as Strasburg. This could simply be a matter of the Nationals making it clear to him that he is to tell them whenever something does not feel right, regardless how minor it is.

It is important to note that these are unrelated injuries, and there is no reason to think that something like a forearm strain will not be cleared up and no longer an issue after his 15 days are up.

The fact of the matter is, when Strasburg has been healthy, he has been nothing short of amazing and has lived up to the hype. With a sparkling ERA of 2.91 and his as advertised repertoire of pitches racking up 12.2 K/9, he has shown that he can dominate since his 14-strikeout debut.

The Nationals are an up-and-coming team and should be on their way to playing competitive baseball within the next few seasons.

With a solid core of players like Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham, Nyjer Morgan, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard, and Drew Storen among others, and fellow phenom Bryce Harper heading up one of the better minor league systems in baseball, the Nationals will certainly be a fun team to watch in the years to come.

Why He Is the Next Epic Flop

While the forearm injury is most likely nothing serious, the earlier shoulder injury is a concern, as there may be no bigger red flag for a hard-throwing pitcher than a shoulder problem.

Strasburg seems to have smooth enough mechanics, but the same was said about the effortless way in which Mark Prior pitched, and he is perhaps the most epic flameout of all-time.

Looking closer at Prior’s case, while he did suffer various other injuries early in his career, it was a shoulder injury in 2006 spring training that led to his downward spiral. He missed three months to open the season and was then shut down in August when the shoulder injury flared back up.

The beginning of the next season ended for Prior before it even started, as he underwent shoulder surgery in spring training of the 2007 season and never pitched in the big leagues again. While this is only one case, it shows how significantly a shoulder injury can flare up time and again. With Prior and Strasburg put on equally high pedestals coming out of college, it is a fair comparison to make.

The Verdict

While it is certainly too soon to write Strasburg off or anoint him the next Hall of Fame pitcher, the early injury problems are certainly enough to make Nationals fans squirm a bit. With the team looking to the future and having little to play for this season, the Nationals have no reason not to be overly cautious with their prized arm.

Time will tell if the arm problems continue, but one thing is for sure: The future of the Nationals will greatly hinge on the health of Strasburg’s right arm.

Read more MLB news on