We ran a poll last week asking whether or not the Nationals are to blame for Stephen Strasburg’s elbow injury and I’m happy to say that 82.5 percent of respondents agreed with me that the answer is “no.”
I’m not sure if Mark Prior cast a vote–obviously he’s a huge fan of Hardball Talk, but it’s possible he doesn’t particularly enjoy polls–but he’s clearly in the “don’t blame the Nationals” camp, saying the following during a radio interview:
You certainly can’t put blame on the Washington Nationals. … I don’t think anyone needs to or should question what they did. Everybody is coming back to second guess everything and every little detail and how it was handled. I don’t think it was handled wrongly. I don’t think there’s a right way. I don’t think there is a wrong way. Everybody is individual in terms of how they get through their careers. There is no right way or wrong way for anybody, whether it is a pitcher, whether it is a position player.
As a fan, I loved watching him. I think he has a lot of God-given talent and I want to watch him out there. From the standpoint of what happened this year, who knows? Nobody knows. It just because it was his time? What was going to happen was going to happen whether he was in the minor leagues or the major leagues or if he was back in his senior year of college. Nobody knows what the outcome of anything is. It’s just a game where you are relying on your body to do a lot of things in a grinding sport and things happen.
I disagree with Prior in that I think there are plenty of cases where teams are at least somewhat to blame for a pitcher getting hurt and in fact Prior may be one of those cases given the pitch counts Dusty Baker allowed him to rack up. However, in Strasburg’s case the Nationals limited him to such modest workloads that they couldn’t possibly have been responsible.
Strasburg blew out his elbow without ever throwing even 100 pitches for the Nationals, in the minors or majors, and his college workload at San Diego State was significantly bigger. Compare that to Prior, who at the same age as Strasburg was allowed to top 100 pitches in 14 of 19 starts for the Cubs, including outings of 135 and 124 pitches. Prior had a huge workload for a 21-year-old pitcher and got hurt. Strasburg is just a 21-year-old pitcher who got hurt.