A little more than two weeks into the start of the 2020 MLB season, fears that came along with a rushed version of spring training are being realized. With less time than usual to prepare for meaningful games, pitchers are suffering more injuries.

Washington Nationals star Max Scherzer became the latest victim Wednesday, forced to leave his start against the New York Mets early because of a tweaked hamstring. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is finally scheduled to make his season debut for Washington Sunday after dealing with a nerve issue in his hand.

Reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander made one start and could miss the rest of the year with a forearm strain. Two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber has been shut down for at least a month with a shoulder injury. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani is probably done pitching this year because of a similar injury.

There’s up-and-coming star Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Siroka, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles. New York Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle made one appearance and was put on the shelf with Tommy John Surgery.

Pitchers have been placed on the injured list at a rate about three times that of a similar stretch of games last season, according to The Athletic. One executive told the publication that the number of pitching injuries has been “alarming.” 

The league instituted a shortened 60-game schedule in late June, and players reported to camp with about three weeks to get ready for Opening Day. Before the coronavirus pandemic suspended all professional sports, pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in mid-February, six weeks before the originally scheduled March 26 Opening Day.

“The current conditioning of players is likely suboptimal as they have not been able to work out in a standard & diligent fashion during the lockdown,” Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad wrote in May for Medium.com. “The density of throwing may be increased in a scenario where games are scheduled with higher frequency forcing players to face compromised rest periods. Even worse, some players will be returning from a prior elbow injury and will be vulnerable to re-injury.”

Those words seem prescient as the list of injured pitchers grows by the day. In a two-month regular season, one or two significant injuries to a team’s pitching staff can severely hurt their championship aspirations.

Between coronavirus outbreaks within a few clubs and a rash of pitching injuries, staying healthy might be more important for MLB teams than ever before.

Max Scherzer Stephen Strasburg Nationals Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals talks with Stephen Strasburg #37 in the dugout against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on April 19, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images