Washington Nationals: The Strasburg Countdown

 

Most of the time when you hear about an athlete having rules apply to them, it’s usually a bad thing. Not in this case. Late Thursday evening, the Washington Nationals announced that their ace Stephen Strasburg would only have 2 or 3 starts left in his season. Sounds a little crazy right?

Earlier this season, the National’s GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson established something I like to call “The Strasburg Countdown”. This countdown was established earlier this season to monitor how many innings Strasburg pitches. The limit was set between 160-180 innings. It is understandable why the team would want to monitor how many innings he pitches after coming off Tommy John surgery last season, which everyone knows isn’t easy to come back from.

The countdown is winding down as Strasburg is at 145.1 innings after his Tuesday night start. After Thursday’s news of only being allowed 2 to 3 more starts, with six weeks left in the season, Nationals’ fans have to face a reality they had been hoping to avoid this season. It’s the reality that Stephen Strasburg, leader in the National League in strikeouts with 183, will not be pitching for the Washington Nationals this post season.

Right now, the Washington Nationals are first in the NL East with a 79-51 record, 15 of those wins brought by Strasburg. They will be going to the post season for the first time since 1933 and yes, they will be entering the post season without their ace.

This is wrong on so many levels. For Nationals fans, I am truly sorry. What your franchise is doing to you is unfair. This is unfair to the Washington Nationals team, not to mention Strasburg himself.  One player in particular who spoke out about the topic, Nationals first basemen Adam LaRoche. “I get there side. 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.” LaRoche was also quoted saying, “It’ll be frustrating, but apparently we’re going to have to deal with it, because I think they’ve made up their minds.”

It is remarkable how fast Strasburg has come along this season, making himself one of the best pitchers in baseball. The former 2009 number one overall pick should be allowed to showcase his talent, his gift to the nation.

I understand why the Nationals would be cautious with Strasburg, because he’s the real deal and don’t want another Tommy John episode; but you can’t take away a team’s star pitcher before heading into the postseason. Stephen Strasburg was brought to Washington to do exactly what he has done this season. It’s a shame that the 24 year old cannot show off his talents and help his team when they need him the most. I think it is an even bigger disappointment for the fans.

It is really hard to say whether or not Strasburg should be allowed to pitch this postseason or not. Did the Nationals ever think just stopping now and saving Strasburg for the postseason? Wouldn’t that be the best thing to do in this case, for everyone’s sake? Who knows why the nationals are saving him. Maybe they’ll bring Strasburg out for relief during the playoffs, Rick Vaughn-esqe hopefully. All I know is that when I watch Stephen Strasburg, I know he is the real deal and has a promising career ahead of him. Why put it on pause now?

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