I realize what’s going to be done is what’s going to be done, that the Nationals have their reasons, and that most Nationals fans are either perfectly fine with this or are at least resigned to it. But it must be noted that we truly are in something of a crazy world with respect to the impending Stephen Strasburg shutdown.
The pushback against the critical voices has gotten so insistent that it has transformed from “hey, this is not ideal but it’s in the best interests of Strasburg and the team” into something quite close to “the Nationals are better off without him and anyone who says otherwise is stupid!”
Take Thomas Boswell’s column from yesterday. It’s practically strident. After describing the Nats team as dominant, then revealing that he had taken Strasburg’s numbers out of that analysis, he says:
The four-man rotation, primed for October that I’ve described is Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler. So all of the pundits who say the Nats can’t go to the Series or even win it, just because they won’t have Strasburg, can kiss my press pass.
Yeah, it’s totally crazy to think that the team is better with one of the best pitchers in baseball. In a postseason where anything can happen, and where nine of the ten teams who enter will not leave alive, it’s always the case that the best on-paper team wins it. The ones who lose never ever wish that they had an extra ace pitcher at their disposal. It’s ludicrous to suggest otherwise and it’s totally reasonable to describe the team that is left as “hegemonic” and “dominant” like Boswell does here. Nope, that never, ever looks silly later.
The Strasburg Sitters have won. He will sit, and none of us who think it’s a bad idea to sit him will get our way. But I do wish that the Strasburg Sitters would acknowledge that in their very own division, a Phillies team with three legitimate Cy Young quality pitchers and a fourth who recently had been were bounced in the NLDS last year. That a Braves team with three future Hall of Fame starters only broke through to win it once in a decade and a half.
And that no matter how loudly you call the rest of us dumb and how rudely you ask us to “kiss your press pass,” that simple odds favor the field over your dominant Washington Nationals and that any team, no matter how good, is much, much better off with Stephen Strasburg on it than off of it come playoff time.