Washington Nationals star Stephen Strasburg set for season debut on Thursday

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Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will make his much-anticipated return to the rotation Thursday to face the Miami Marlins.

Strasburg, 33, has been considered a superstar prospect since before he arrived in the majors, earning number one overall selection in the 2009 MLB Draft and fulfilling the promise of his talent.

In 2019 the three-time All-Star reached the pinnacle, being named World Series MVP as he guided the Nationals to their first ever championship in the midst of an injury-ravaged career.

Manager Dave Martinez told reporters that Strasburg would be activated from the injured list before Tuesday’s series opener in Miami, and implied he would not be on a pitch or innings count.

"I'm not going to put any limitations on him," Martinez said. "We'll see how far we can take him.

"We'll keep a close eye on him, but this is one of the reasons why we wanted him to go through what he did and to make sure that he's fully ready."

As part of his journey back from injury, he made three rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues, throwing 13 2/3 innings and striking out 13 batters.

Strasburg last pitched in the majors just over a year ago on June 1, 2021. Last summer, he underwent surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome – the compression of nerves between the collarbone and first rib that leads to shoulder and neck pain, along with numbness of the fingers.

His 2020 campaign was also cut short due to season-ending surgery, that time for neuritis in his throwing hand.

Now in his 13th season, Strasburg has made just seven starts since leading the Nationals to their 2019 crown, for which he was rewarded with a seven-year, $245million contract extension that runs through 2026.

Twice a top-five finisher in Cy Young Award voting, Strasburg returns to a last-place Washington team that is in desperate need of a spark. The Nationals entered play on Tuesday with a 21-35 record, and their rotation has posted an MLB-worst 5.88 ERA this season.

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