It does appear as if the Washington Nationals are going to shut down their best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, after he reaches a pre-determined inning limit. He won’t return for the postseason no matter what, according to GM Mike Rizzo.
This isn’t going over very well in the Nats’ clubhouse. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke to some Nats players; here’s one typical reaction:
"I get their side," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "But our side is, the playoffs aren’t guaranteed. You don’t want to shut your best guy down — or one of your best guys, because we’ve got a bunch of them — if you’re never going to go back there. If I knew for the next two or three years we’re going to go back, then it’s probably an easy decision.
"From my side of it, I’m sure [Ryan Zimmerman], Jayson [Werth], [Mark DeRosa], guys who have been around a while, it’s tough to go out there and bust it every night, then turn around and have one of your best guys shut down. Are we going to pout about it? No. We’re not going to go yell at Rizzo or [Manager Davey Johnson]. No, it is what it is. It’ll be frustrating, but apparently we’re going to have to deal with it, because I think they’ve made up their minds."
The Nats have the best record in the major leagues and look postseason-bound, barring a total collapse in September. Here’s why, writes Kilgore, the Nats could be all right even without Strasburg:
If Strasburg’s 43 earned runs allowed over 133⅓ innings were removed, the Nationals’ rotation would have a 3.30 ERA, still the best in the majors.
It’s a radical decision; if it works for the Nats, other teams might try the same thing.