Return to story
Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg has only one start left.
Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg will have to get used to the view from the dugout with his impending shutdown.
YOU KNOW I've got to weigh in on the Stephen Strasburg debate.
The plan is for Strasburg, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, to be shut down after 170 innings or so of pitching this season.
That decision came last spring when a .500 season for the young Washington Nationals would have been considered a sweet victory.
Instead, the Nats are 30 games over .500 and have led the National League East for most of the season. Now the team is almost guaranteed a playoff berth and is eyeing its first pennant.
Once in the playoffs, Washington, with a superior pitching staff, would have a great chance of getting to the World Series and bringing a world championship to the nation's capital.
Your grandfather probably wasn't born the last time that feat was accomplished.
But Strasburg, who is among the league leaders in wins, earned run average and strikeouts, has been told that he will just sit on the bench and watch the playoffs.
No matter that he says his arm feels fine. Just sit on the bench. Let that arm rest. Save him for the future.
Hey! For the Nationals, the future is now. Yes, the Nats are a good, young club, but that does not mean they will ever be in a position to get into a World Series again.
With free agency taking players away and injuries always popping up, there is no guarantee that the Nats will even be a .500 team next year. Yes, they have played well this season, but anyone who has watched the team on a regular basis knows that they have been lucky, too.
Washington has won at least a dozen games they should not have put in the win column. This appears to be one of those magical years that comes along once in a player's lifetime. This year, the Nats seem to be a team of destiny.
If I were 24 years old and asked to give up a chance to play in a World Series, I would pitch a fit like you have never seen.
Sure, I know that Nats have a big investment in Strasburg, but money isn't everything.
Besides, if it is all about money, think how much winning a World Series would be worth to Washington.
Baseball is supposed to be fun, but Strasburg is not going to have much fun sitting on the bench, watching what may be his only chance to play in a World Series slip by.
Some argue that if the Nats overuse him, he might hurt his shoulder (the repaired elbow is not the problem). But Strasburg might injure his shoulder putting a picture on the wall or turning over in his sleep. There are no guarantees in life.
If Washington wanted to limit Strasburg's throwing, they could have allowed him to skip a few starts late in the season or put him at the end of their five-man rotation after the All-Star Game. That would have cut down his innings and saved him for the playoffs.
Baseball fans are getting sick and tired of all these arbitrary numbers being thrown around today. You throw more than 100 pitches in a game and you turn into a pumpkin. You pitch more than 160 innings after Tommy John surgery and your shoulder disintegrates.
Still, we can't take any chances. We want Strasburg for the future.
Hey! If he stays healthy, the Yankees will probably have him when his Washington contract runs out. New York has a well of money that could put the national debt back in the black.
If I were Stephen Strasburg and I was told that I could not pitch in the playoffs or the World Series, I would have the following words for Nats' general manager Mike Rizzo.
"OK, you may be saving me, but you're saving me for some other team. If I don't get to be part of this playoff picture, I want to be traded. End of discussion."
Of course, if Rizzo can guarantee--in writing--that there will be other playoff years, then that's a different story.
But I would have a clause in my contract that states that I get a $10 million bonus every year that the Nats don't make the playoffs. If it's all about money, let's play the game that way.
Play me or trade me! That would be my demand if I were Strasburg.
To paraphrase a line in the movie "Seabiscuit": It is better to break a man's shoulder than break his heart.