|Strasburg decision may haunt Nationals||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on September 09, 2012
Guided by exceptionally strong starting pitching, Washington appears poised to capture the NL East title. While Gio Gonzalez has been lights out, it’s been the young phenom Stephen Strasburg that has risen to the occasion in his first completely full season.
Photo by Geoff Livingston, used under creative commons license.
However, the Nationals have chosen to shut him down since it is his first full season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2010. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has been the mastermind behind this decision.
Strasburg has shown this season that he can be a dominant starter in this league for a long time. The Nationals want to ensure that their ace will remain on the mound for the duration of his career.
But again, the Nats are in a position they’ve never been, and Strasburg holds the key to a deep postseason run. That’s why shutting him down at this point has been a heavily debated decision.
What’s interesting is that the Nationals won’t even consider bringing him back for the postseason after a few weeks off. Once he’s shut down, that’s it for this year, at least according to Rizzo.
Maybe the Nationals are trying to dupe teams into thinking they won’t have to face Strasburg down the stretch or in the playoffs. This really isn’t necessary though, since either way preparing to face Strasburg is no easy task.
If the Nationals were planning on bringing Strasburg back to start Game 1 of the playoffs, no one would be clamoring about this decision. He’s obviously thrown more innings this year than his previous two seasons combined, so a few weeks rest before the playoffs would have done him well.
Instead, the Nationals will replace Strasburg with John Lannan, who has spent most of the season in Triple-A. Lannan will join Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler in what is still a top-notch starting rotation.
Tommy John, the namesake of the surgery, said recently that he disagreed with the Nationals’ decision and would be very upset if he had to miss the postseason if he was in the same situation. However, Dr. James Andrews, who performed Strasburg’s surgery, agreed that shutting the young pitcher down is the right call.
No one has a crystal ball, but the Nationals could be sitting around after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and saying, “What if we had Strasburg?” Then again, years from now, if Strasburg is going for his 300th career win and 3,000th career strikeout, Mike Rizzo will look like a genius.