For months, anyone who would peer into Stephen Strasburg's future, wondering aloud what heights the Washington Nationals' phenom might reach, what pitching records he might break, would use the same cautious qualifier: Strasburg, they would say, could be one of the all-time greats . . . could be a Hall-of-Famer . . . could win 300 games . . . if he stays healthy.
But he did not stay healthy. Strasburg, the same pitcher who was a vision of youthful vitality and athletic genius in the first few glimpses of him on the Nationals Park mound this summer, will have his right elbow sliced open by a surgeon's knife in the next few days. He won't pitch again in 2010. He is unlikely to pitch in 2011.