PlanetStar Wiki

Curse of Stephen Strasburg was a possible curse that prevents the Washington Nationals from winning the Division Series, meaning current Nationals squad like Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, and curse's namesake Stephen Strasburg may never play for the pennant, let alone World Series. The curse began in 2012 and ended in 2019, although it supposed to last until the 2030s. The possible explanation for breaking the curse early is explained below, like accomplishing a particular feat that is rewarding.

Birth of the curse[]

The 2012 Washington Nationals season had a lot of expectations after getting many good players during the previous offseason, most expect them to win the division, and many more think that Nationals may win the World Series. The curse began when Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was put on innings limit by the team's manager Mike Rizzo after pitching his first full season since he had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed much of 2011 season. His season was done in mid-September 2012 after pitching nearly 160 innings and would not be ineligible to pitch in the postseason. The Nationals met the in-season expectation by winning the NL East with 98 wins. The Nationals played the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS, where they lost the series in five games. If Stephen Strasburg was available in that series, he would've pitch Games 1 and 5. The actual Nats rotation in that series was Gio Gonzalez in Game 1, Jordan Zimmermann in Game 2, Edwin Jackson in Game 3, Ross Detwiler in Game 4, and back to Gonzalez in Game 5. If Strasburg was in that series, he would've started Games 1 and 5, Gonzalez in Game 2, Zimmermann in Game 3, and Jackson in Game 4. In Game 5, Nats had a 6-0 lead after third inning and had 7-5 lead over St. Louis heading into the ninth inning before Nats closer Drew Storen gave up four runs and Nats lost the Division Series. Who knew, if Strasburg were to pitch in this Series, the game-by-game results in Division Series would've been different and Nats probably would've won the Series.

Years later[]

After missing the playoffs in 2013, the Nationals have again won the NL East in 2014. They faced the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series. They lost the Series in four games. Strasburg started Game 1, but the Nats lost that game.

Two years later, the Nats won the NL East and again went to playoffs without Strasburg as he was nursing elbow injury he suffered in mid-September. They faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. They again lost a winner-take-all game, and healthy Strasburg probably would've helped the Nats advance to the championship round. If Nats won the Series, there is a chance they would've prevented the Cubs from ending their infamous 108-year World Series title drought. One year later, they yet again lost a winner-take-all game in the Division Series, this time to the defending World Series Champions Chicago Cubs. They lost in all four LDS appearances over the last six seasons, three of those came at Nationals Park in Game 5.

End of the curse[]

Finally in 2019 the Nationals broke the curse prematurely by beating the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS after being down 2-1. In Game 5, they trail 3-1 into the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium when Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit home runs on consecutive pitches thrown by Clayton Kershaw to tie the game at 3. The Nationals kept the Dodgers from scoring any more runs until the Nationals' and ex-Dodger Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam in the 10th inning to give Nats a 7-3 win and will play in NLCS for the first time since 1981 when they were the Expos. They went on to sweep the Cardinals in the NLCS, the same opponent as when the Nats started the curse in 2012, and won the World Series in their first appearance by beating the heavenly-favored Houston Astros in seven games, and all four wins came on the road. The curse's namesake Stephen Strasburg took home the World Series MVP after two dominant performances.

The curse was said to last until 2036, but it ended 17 years early. A possible explanation is that Nats must be 12 games under .500 and then make the playoffs, which they did. Exactly 12 games under .500 ironically matches with the last two digits of the year (2012) when the curse began. So being this many games under .500 and overcame it and make the playoffs awarded them to end the curse, just like a prisoner granting a parole after seven years during the 24 year sentence. Another bonus that may have helped ended the curse was having Stephen Strasburg to start Game 5, which gave up all three of the Dodgers' runs in the game, then the bullpen held them in check despite having the worst bullpen ERA in the MLB in 2019 at 5.68.

See also[]