Stephen Strasburg's extension certain to backfire on Nationals

One thing we know: Stephen Strasburg will be a rich(er) man.Another thing we know: The Nationals will regret giving him a seven-year, Scott Boras-brokered $175 million megadeal. MORE: The 10 worst contracts still on the booksYes, the 27-year-old right hander finally looks like the pitcher everyone envisioned when he was a highly touted prospect six years ago. But the dominance he's displayed since mid-2015 doesn't — and shouldn't — erase the other five years of his injury-riddled career, which makes the Nats' extension a puzzling gamble that see

ms based on wishful thinking and a way-too-small sample size. And make no mistake: This is a huge gamble. In fact, opening the checkbook the way the Nationals have for Strasburg (who isn't even the best pitcher on the team) is a risk that's all but certain to backfire, perhaps even before he reaches the reported opt-out clause after Years 3 and 4.For $175 million (payout breakdown here), a team needs a dominant yet durable workhorse. Despite occasional stretches of dominance, Strasburg has been, to put it bluntly, slightly more durable than a pane of glass. Anything but a reliable rotation presence during his six-year career, Strasburg already has had five separate DL stints, missing time for ailments including shoulder stiffness, neck tightness, muscle strains and, of course, a torn UCL in 2010 that required Tommy John surgery. Not to mention the few times he's left games with non-DL concerns such as heat exhaustion and shoulder irritation.It's always something.Félix Hernández had five 200-IP seasons under his belt when he signed his 7-year, $175M contractStephen Strasburg has one— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 10, 2016The object of the newest wasteful spending plan in Washington has made it through exactly one season without missing significant time to injury. That was in 2014, when he led the NL in starts (34) and compiled a 14-11 record with a 3.14 ERA and a league-leading 242 strikeouts in 215 innings. That was followed by two DL stints in 2015, which limited him to 23 starts, though he did win eight of his final 10 decisions from June 23 through the end of the season.MORE: Strasburg has surgery to remove benign growth on backHis work so far in 2016 has been admittedly impressive — 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 49 innings — but even when factoring in his success late last season, that hardly seems like enough to declare that the real Strasburg, the $175 million Strasburg, now walks among us.It's only May. Given his history, Strasburg's unlikely to make it through this season — never mind two or three seasons from now — without a stint on the DL or, at the least, a few missed starts with his latest minor ailment. But maybe Washington's feeling lucky. Or maybe the Nats feel certain. Maybe this is the real Strasburg, one who can keep up his recent success over a long contract and lead the Nationals to the postseason promised land that has eluded them since they became a trendy on-paper champion in 2013.More likely, though, Washington will regret this gamble long before it hangs a championship banner in the rafters at Nationals Park.You can bet on it.