Watching Stephen Strasburg leave last Sunday’s game with what Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker called a nerve impingement, Nationals fans knew not to believe the early prognosis. This is Stephen Strasburg and these are the Nationals, which means the injury is going to be much worse than the initial diagnosis.

Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg warms up during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 23, 2017, in Phoenix. Strasburg had to leave the game due to injury after pitching the second inning, but the Nationals defeated the Diamondbacks 6-2. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

What began as a slight injury that would cost Strasburg just one start has now expanded into a trip to the DL with no timetable for a return. Is this precautionary? We all hope so, but we have been here before. Just last year, Strasburg missed the last month of the season and the playoffs with elbow tendonitis. As great a pitcher he is—and he is great—he seems like one of the most fragile players in pro sports. Luckily for all parties involved, with such a huge lead in the standings, team brass can be extremely patient with Strasburg.

Along with ace pitcher Max Scherzer’s recent bout with a neck strain that will keep him out for a start or two, the rotation is in flux. With Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark as the only starting pitchers from the Opening Day roster without any issues at the moment, Baker has to work his magic to make sure this team doesn’t implode before October. With the acquisition of veteran starter Edwin Jackson to take the place of the injured Joe Ross and various call-ups from the minors to be fifth starters, now is the time to pray for health throughout the roster.

Just because players such as Brian Goodwin and Wilfer Difo have exceeded expectations as injury replacements so far, doesn’t mean the team doesn’t miss its many weapons in the lineup.  As the weeks continue, the fact that Jayson Werth and Trae Turner are still out without a timetable for return is a tad disconcerting. These guys need to be infused into a lineup that has continued to rake without skipping a beat. 

Hopefully the guys will come back healthy soon enough, because no matter how big the Nationals’ lead in the NL East seems, this team just can’t compete with strong teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs in a playoff series without their best players.