Stephen Strasburg returns Tuesday … you ready?

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Update: The day is here … any predictions? Leave yours in a comment …

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

He’s baaaaaack.

Exactly 368 days after it was revealed that he would need season-ending and career-threatening Tommy John elbow-ligament replacement surgery, Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg‘s MLB return was confirmed Tuesday evening.

He’ll be back on the mound next Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers as long as his final minor-league rehab start this Thursday goes all as planned.

For those who might not remember, Strasburg was the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Nationals in 2009 after a dominating college career at San Diego State, and that same dominance continued into his minor-league career and into his rookie season. He started strong, striking out 14 in his first MLB start — just one short of the big-league record for a debut — but didn’t stop there.

Although he finished his season with a torn elbow ligament — dashing many a hopes for continued cardboard dominance — but struck out 92 strikeouts in 68 innings, recording a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA, just 17 walks and an opponents’ batting average of .221.

As a rookie.

On cardboard, his success predated his dominating big-league debut as his Bowman Chrome SuperFractor sold for a SuperFractor record-breaking $16,403 in May before being re-sold again for $21,403 in July. But it was not even close to being about one big card with Strasburg. Between Jan. 1, 2010, and the time of his injury, Beckett Media tracked sales totaling a cool $1,010,703.99 — an average price of $66.56 per sale of Strasburg’s cards. (Read more about all that right here.)

Again, as a rookie.

Strasburg was clearly the biggest thing on cardboard in some time — if not ever — at the time of his injury. The sudden surge of interest in his cards from traditional, non-collectors — everyday fans — certainly aided in the  surge. The downfall was substantial, too, with the injury giving some speculators a second chance to get in on “Strasmas” after they missed. However, I, for one, believe that his comeback might even generate more headlines than before.

Especially if he plays like he did … as a rookie.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

14 Comments

  1. Posted Tuesday August 30th, 2011 at 09:36 PM | Permalink

    Get your Strasburg cards before Tuesday. It’s going to be Strasmania part 2.

    To all those who slit their wrists and sold-off their Strasburg cards at a loss, I told you so….

  2. The Fighter
    Posted Monday September 5th, 2011 at 06:26 PM | Permalink

    he’ll pitch 4 innings before blowing out his arm again. he’s the next mark prior

  3. James
    Posted Monday September 5th, 2011 at 08:51 PM | Permalink

    I for one hopes he comes back with a vengeance. I got my Strasburg card after his injury and I want to think I got a good deal.

  4. chris bradley
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 06:14 AM | Permalink

    Oh Lord,here comes Becketts attempt again to name Strasburg the greatest thing like they did last year until he got hurt and Beckett was left with egg on there face.I did not fall for the hype the 1st time and will not fall for it this time.I’ll pass again.

  5. @Jaypers413
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 07:06 AM | Permalink

    I predict his line will be 0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, thanks to Mother Nature. Almost no chance the game takes place today. Supposed to rain for the next few days straight in DC.

  6. Nick Tegeler
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 07:09 AM | Permalink

    If he comes back and pitches well I see the hype starting all over again. Although I have wondered why they are bringing him back this year when their season is pretty much over anyway. If I was the one making the decisions for the Nationals, I would really heat up ticket sales with bringing Strasburg back for the 2012 season opener and debut Harper the same game. Now that would have been exciting.

  7. chrisolds
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 09:16 AM | Permalink

    Hey, Chris … your fellow collectors are the ones who were spending money left and right on Strasburg’s cards — more than a million dollars’ worth in a short amount of time. A very short-sighted comment of you. Is MLB.com’s lead story today our doing as well?

    http://promoimg.beckett.com/news/news-content/uploads/2011/09/StrasMLB.jpg

  8. Kevin
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 09:51 AM | Permalink

    How can people predict inury for the kid. It’s someones health and well being we are talking about.

    I hope he does well. He was a ton of fun to watch.

  9. chris bradley
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    Hey Olds,they spend that money because people like you put in there head that he will be great and they go blow there money on your false predictions.Sorry,its just the way it is.

  10. Ignogg
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    I predict another home run and stolen base for the MVP Matt Kemp. And I’ll throw in a walk-off homer for Ethier in the 12th.

  11. chrisolds
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 02:24 PM | Permalink

    Funny, Strasburg was a hot, hot, hot seller back before I got here in 2008 and he was a USA Baseball player. But, hey, if you want to give me credit …

    And, in other news, Swisher is the greatest player ever! (How are his cards selling?)

  12. TIM BOHAN
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 03:23 PM | Permalink

    O.K GUYS THE FACT THAT HE HEELED SO FAST SHOWS HIS DEDICATION TO THE GAME AND IF YOU DIDNT BUY HIS CARDS WHEN HE WAS INJURED YOU WERE STUPID …HE HAS 5 DIFFERENT PITCHES WITH CONTROL OF ALL…. I HATE PEOPLE WHO RUN THERE MOUTHS THAT DONT EVEN KNOW THE GAME ….SIT BACK AND WATCH HISTORY

  13. chrisolds
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 03:25 PM | Permalink

    His stats were astounding … and his stuff was great, too. There are plenty of reasons plenty of people were buying his cards. Should be interesting to see how bidness picks up after a return start that is strong — or if he flounders. His rehab starts in the minors were very strong.

  14. Kevin
    Posted Tuesday September 6th, 2011 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Chris B, your argument seems to indicate that collectors can’t have an opinion of their own. That is something I never understood about the anti Becket folks.

    Saying Becket is the cause of hype is silly. Becket and Chris Olds didn’t set the price of Strasburg cards, we the collectors did that.

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