Earlier this week the Nationals lost co-ace Stephen Strasburg to a strained flexor mass in his first start back from the disabled list. He’d missed time with soreness in his surgically repaired elbow.

Here’s video of his exit from Wednesday night’s game:

The Nationals have a comfortable eight-game lead in the NL East and there are three weeks to go in the regular season, so given the nature of Strasburg’s injury, his availability for the postseason is very much in question.

It’s not a surprise Strasburg is heading for a second opinion. Most pitchers get one when facing an arm injury. Initial tests showed Strasburg’s ulnar collateral ligament is intact, which is great news. He’s had Tommy John surgery once before, and the second procedure carries much more risk.

strasburg-9716.jpgStephen Strasburg is unsure about his status for the postseason. USATSI

The Nationals are blessed with good rotation depth at the moment. They have Max Scherzer to lead the staff, veterans Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez behind him, and youngsters A.J. Cole, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez as options for the back of the rotation. Washington will be able to cobble together a respectable postseason rotation without much of a problem.

Of course, the Nationals would be much more dangerous in a short postseason season with a healthy Strasburg lining up behind Scherzer. Strained flexor masses usually don’t heal in a week or two though, and the team won’t push Strasburg and risk further injury. There’s a very real chance he won’t be available for the NLDS, if not longer.

Source: CBS Sports / Stephen Strasburg heading for second opinion, unsure about status for postseason